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Obesity Linked to Lower Paychecks

MONDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Obese Americans have smaller paychecks than those who aren't overweight, and this difference is especially strong among women, a new study finds.

The analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth revealed that in 2004, overall average annual incomes were $8,666 less for obese women and $4,772 less for obese men compared with normal weight workers.

In 2008, obese women made an average of $5,826 (15 percent) less than normal-weight females, the George Washington University researchers said.

"This research broadens the growing body of evidence that shows that in addition to taxing health, obesity significantly affects personal finances," Christine Ferguson, a professor in the department of health policy, said in a university news release. "It also reinforces how prevalent stigma is when it comes to weight-related health issues."

She and her colleagues also found that race has a significant influence on weight-related differences in income. White women who were obese had lower wages in both 2004 and 2008 than normal-weight white women, while wages were lower for obese white men only in 2004.

In 2004, Hispanic women who were obese earned $6,618 less than normal-weight Hispanic women. In 2008, the gap among women narrowed slightly but doubled for men. Hispanic men who were obese earned $8,394 less than normal weight Hispanic men.

In both 2004 and 2008, black men who were obese earned more than normal-weight black men, while wages were similar for obese and normal-weight black women.

Last year, George Washington University researchers found that the average annual costs of being obese were $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man. Those figures include indirect costs such as lost productivity and direct expenses such as medical care.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains the causes and consequences of overweight and obesity.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: George Washington University, news release, December 2011

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