Obesity is becoming more common in developing countries according to a new study that says as their economies grow, so do the populations’ waistlines.

Researchers from the USA’s University of North Carolina and Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo analysed data from 149,000 women aged 20 to 49 in 37 countries of a wide range of economic development.

The study found that in lower-middle income countries, (such as Brazil), obesity among women rose with family income. Moreover, those in a lower socio-economic group in a country with a GNP per head under US$745 had low risks for obesity whilst those in a GNP US$2,995 country had “considerably” higher obesity risks.

The study blames the availability of cheap processed food and overpriced fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables and lean meats.