NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Obesity Linked to Lower Paychecks

January 9, 2012

A new study has recently uncovered significant relationships between obesity among Americans and their paychecks.  In almost all cases, those who are obese take home a smaller paycheck than their normal weight colleagues, says Yahoo! News.

  • Last year, George Washington University researchers found that the average annual cost of being obese was $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man -- these figures include both indirect and direct costs.
  • In 2004, overall average annual incomes were $8,666 less for obese women than for their normal weight coworkers, but this differential was found to have fallen to an average of $5,826 by 2008.
  • Also in 2004, obese men made $4,772 less than normal weight workers.

These relationships have been explored by numerous studies before, but the recent study continued its analysis by assessing the relative strength of this correlation between differing gender and race populations.

  • In 2004, Hispanic women who were obese earned $6,618 less than normal-weight Hispanic women.
  • Simultaneously, Hispanic men who were obese earned $8,394 less than normal weight Hispanic men.
  • Most surprisingly, 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.

This last fact is perhaps the most fascinating, as it suggests that the correlation, which holds strongly for the rest of the population, exempts black men and women.

Source: "Obesity Linked to Lower Paychecks," Yahoo! News, December 19, 2011. Avi Dor et al., "Gender and Race Age Gaps Attributable to Obesity," George Washington University School of Public Health, November 17, 2011.

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