I’ve written before about obesity issues - mostly related to soda and diet soda (the message – even diet soda isn’t good for you – try to drink water instead) and also that even being a little overweight can still result in health problems. But a new study, coming out of the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, shows that obesity can also impact you economically with obese people earning less than the rest of the population on average.
Hopefully this information will help provide greater motivation for people struggling with obesity since sometimes it takes more than a simple understanding of health and self interest to sufficiently motivate people to take action. But it also raises questions about the reasons for average lower pay.
The study reveals that in 2004, obese women made an average of $8666 less than the general population and obese men made an average of $4772 less. There are some race-related differences as well – most notably that African-American men who were overweight earned MORE than African-American men of normal weight. You can find out more in this news report and from the study itself.
It has been established that there are costs to being obese in terms of increased healthcare, etc. but this study did not look at both ends of the spectrum – income AND costs, so it is unclear what overlap there is with previous studies. The big question, however, is around the cause and effect.
Are obese people being paid less because they perform less well or because they are being discriminated against, whether consciously or unconsciously?
Jan Gurley is an internist physician who practices in a homeless clinic for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. She blogs at Doc Gurley: Posts from an Insane Healthcare System where this post originally appeared.