In wealthy nations, this means they tend to weigh less than poorly-educated women, while in countries where malnutrition is prevalent, educated women tend to be better nourished and therefore heavier than their less educated counterparts.
The study is published in the Handbook of Developmental Economics and was carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California.
Researcher John Strauss, professor of economics at the university, commented: "As a population moves through the nutrition transition, it is the most educated, and highest income, who are the first to exit under-nutrition.
"They are also the first to adjust their diet and physical activity to avoid the deleterious effects of being overweight."
The expert also noted that economic development tends to be associated with a rise in obesity, "which is troubling given the relationship between obesity and cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and possibly cancer".