The relationship between obesity and several social factors was investigated among 1,660 adults representative of a residential area in midtown Manhattan. An inverse relationship previously described between obesity and parental socioeconomic status was also found between obesity and one's own socioeconomic status. Obesity was six times more common among women of low status as compared to those of high status. Furthermore, upwardly mobile females were less obese (12%) than the downwardly mobile (22%). Finally, the longer a woman's family had been in this country, the less likely she was to be obese. Similar but less marked trends obtained for the men. Suggestive relationships between ethnic and religious factors and obesity were also found for both sexes. These findings suggest opportunities for more effective weight control measures through programs specially tailored for populations at high risk.