Official: obesity is bad for your wealth

Roger Dobson
Sunday 14 December 2003 01:00

Obese men and women are damaging their wealth as well as their health.

As people put on weight, their pay packets and bank balances shed pounds, and men and women who are obese are worth half as much as thin people, research said. While the average obese person and his or her family are worth around £70,000, thinner people and their kin have a net worth of £160,000

The researchers from Ohio and Boston universities, led by Dr Jay Zagorsky from Ohio State University's economics department, took into account values of houses and cars as well as savings and income. The results, which appear this week in the journal Research on Ageing, showed that for a one-point increase in the body mass index, annual wealth, including income, fell by around £700. "Over the entire life span, obese individuals have the lowest net worth, with the average obese individual having roughly half that of those with normal body mass," said Dr Zagorsky.

One theory is that employers may discriminate against the obese, either because of safety fears, health concerns, or simply because of worries about their public image.

"Research shows obesity is dangerous to health, but there is no research on whether obesity is dangerous to wealth," he said.

"It is an American study but the results apply to the UK and Europe too because the obesity problems are pretty much the same."

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