Study finds weight linked to earnings

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A new study has found that career success could be linked to a person’s waistline.

According to research from the University of Otago’s Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS), obesity correlates to high earnings among men, while overweight or obese women earn less than women of average weight.

The study’s analysis was conducted by examining the relationship between participants’ Body Mass Index (BMI) and financial aspects of their lives. The latter included net weekly income, savings and household income.

On average, men with a BMI of more than 30 – which categorises them as obese – earn $140 a week more than men with a “normal” BMI.

Obese women, on the other hand, earn an average of $60 less than women with “normal” BMIs.

Depression levels and life satisfaction were also looked into.

While overweight women were more inclined to be depressed and generally dissatisfied, overweight men displayed no link between their weight and mental health.

Associate Professor John Horwood, director of the CHDS, said that the link between weight and income was evident.

“There was a clear relationship between larger men and larger weekly pay packets,” he said.

“But for men, being classified as overweight or obese according to the BMI Index did not negatively affect other outcomes measured in the study such as self-esteem or mental health.”

He added that the study intended to “establish relationships between size and psychosocial outcomes,” but not to explain them.

However, he speculated that there was likely to be a range of contributors to the outcomes, particularly in the findings related to female participants.

“One reason could be Western society's general view that female obesity is undesirable and unattractive,” he suggested.

“Another could be growing evidence to suggest women are more responsive to adversity in life than men. Not only is there more stigma attached to weight and body composition for women but they may also be more likely to perceive being overweight or obese as a source of stress or adversity.”

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