The independent role of deprivation in abdominal obesity beyond income poverty. A population-based household survey in Chinese adults

Gary Ka-ki CHUNG, Roger Yat-nork CHUNG, Dicken Cheong-chun CHAN, Francisco Tsz-tsun LAI, Hung WONG, Maggie Ka-wai LAU, Samuel Yeung-shan WONG, Eng-kiong YEOH

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Individual-level deprivation takes into account the non-monetary aspects of poverty that neither income poverty nor socio-economic factors could fully capture; however, it has rarely been considered in existing studies on social inequality in obesity. Therefore, we examined the associations of deprivation, beyond income poverty, with both general and abdominal obesity.

A territory-wide two-stage stratified random sample of 2282 community-dwelling Hong Kong adults was surveyed via face-to-face household interviews between 2014 and 2015. Deprivation was assessed by a Deprivation Index specific to the Hong Kong population. General obesity was defined as body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2, while abdominal obesity was defined as waist circumference (WC) ≥ 90 cm/80 cm for male/female. Multivariable binary logistic regressions were performed.

Deprivation was independently associated with abdominal obesity (odds ratios (OR) = 1.68; 95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.27–2.22); however, no significant association was found with general obesity (OR=1.03; CI: 0.77–1.38). After additional adjustment for BMI, deprivation remained strongly associated with abdominal obesity (OR=2.00; CI: 1.41–2.83); and after further adjustment for WC, deprivation had a marginal inverse association with general obesity (OR=0.72; CI: 0.51–1.01).

Deprivation is an important risk factor of abdominal obesity and plays a critical role in capturing the preferential abdominal fat deposition beyond income poverty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-486
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date12 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019

Bibliographical note

We acknowledge Prof David Gordon, Prof Peter Saunders and Prof Jonathan Bradshaw for their invaluable inputs to this project. We would also like to thank Ms Suffy Yeung and Mr Philip Yeung for assistance earlier in the project.

Ethics approval
The study has been approved by the Survey and Behavioural Research Ethics Committee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in June 2012. Informed consents were obtained from each of our participants.

The work was supported by a grant from the Central Policy Unit of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China [Project No. 4003-SPPR-11].


  • Hong Kong
  • abdominal obesity
  • deprivation
  • general obesity
  • inequality
  • poverty


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