The origin of the obesity epidemic in developing countries is still poorly understood. It has been prominently argued that economic development provides a natural interpretation of the growth in obesity. This paper tests the main aggregated predictions of the theoretical framework to analyze obesity. Average body weight and health inequality should be associated with economic development. Both hypotheses are confirmed: we find higher average female body weight in economically more advanced countries. In relatively nondeveloped countries, obesity is a phenomenon of the socioeconomic elite. With economic development, obesity shifts toward individuals with lower socioeconomic status. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.