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Desarrollo y Sociedad

Print version ISSN 0120-3584


PAGANO, Juan Pablo; ROSSI, Máximo  and  TRIUNFO, Patricia. Obesity and Hypertension Among the Elderly in Uruguay. Desarro. soc. [online]. 2009, n.64, pp.207-237. ISSN 0120-3584.

This is a study of obesity socio-economic determinants, as well as its impact on older aldults hypertension prevalence in Montevideo, Uruguay, the country with the eldest population of the southern hemisphere. Through the use of the Health, Well-being and Ageing survey (SABE project, PAHO-WHO, 2001) we estimate separate Instrumental Variables Probit models for women and men, and with respect to two alternative measures of obesity: body mass index (BMI) and waist measure. Coinciding with the epidemiological literature, our results show the importance of an accurate diagnosis and differential treatment by sex. For men, we confirm the presence of endogeneity in the estimations of obesity and hypertension, suggesting the existence unobservable factors that determine both outcomes at the same time. In the case of not taking into account this potential endogeneity, a standard probit model results in an important subestimation of the negative effect of obesity in the probability of suffering from hypertension. First stage results show the relevance and validity of the instruments used (eating habits and social capital). In particular, social capital represents a positive externality by reducing the probability of being obese. This could be the result of common rules and beliefs, as source of support or of spread of healthy habits. At the same time, we find that obesity problems are concentrated among the most favoured social groups (in the present and in the first years of life). This brings some scepticism about the effectiveness of price policies favouring the idea of specific age group orientated interventions.

Keywords : obesity; hypertension; endogeneity; elderly.

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