Female Autonomy and Women's Nutritional Status in Egypt: Does Household Structure Matter?

Adina K. Batnitzky, Brown University

Often referred to as the new burden of disease in the developing world, obesity is beginning to constitute a major health problem in Egypt, particularly for women. The 1998 National Food Consumption Survey found that obesity is significantly higher among women than among men in Egypt (40% vs. 20% in urban areas). Using the 2000 Egyptian DHS, this analysis moves beyond a purely proximate understanding of the rise of obesity in Egypt to incorporate the intermediate social factors of this phenomenon. I hypothesize that a woman's position in the household, relative to other women, and the structure of the household influence her likelihood of being obese. I suggest that this effect operates through a woman's age, status, and relative autonomy. This analysis will pay particular attention to the status relationship between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law in demonstrating these effects.

Presented in Poster Session 5: Health and Mortality