In my last post, I shared the bummer news that being in debt doubles your risk of being overweight. Since the poll I included with my last post shows that roughly 45% of the readers who responded are overweight, I thought I’d share the encouraging news I dug up today:
Overweight Americans who lose a lot of weight also tend to build more wealth as they drop the pounds, according to new research.
The study found that the link between weight loss and wealth gains was particularly strong among white women. Black women and white men also gained wealth as they lost weight, but not as much as did white women. The wealth of black men was basically unaffected by their weight.
There’s no way to tell from the data whether losing weight was the reason for the gain in wealth, but the linkage was definitely there, said Jay Zagorsky, author of the study and a research scientist at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research.
“The typical person who loses or gains a few pounds had almost no change in wealth, but those who lost or gained large amounts of weight had a more dramatic change,” Zagorsky said.
For example, white women who dropped their body mass index score (BMI) – a standard measure of obesity – by 10 points saw a wealth increase of $11,880. White men saw an increase of $12,720 for a similar drop, while black women increased wealth by $4,480.
Overall, the results showed that a one unit increase in a young person’s BMI was associated with a $1,300 or 8 percent reduction in wealth. But the changes varied dramatically by ethnicity and gender.
The study appears online in the “Articles in Press” section of the journal Economics and Human Biology. Read more here: Dieting Linked To Increased Wealth, Study Finds
The data doesn’t indicate whether a person’s wealth affects obesity or whether obesity affects wealth. However, an analysis of those in the study who received inheritances showed no dramatic changes in their BMI scores in the following years. This suggests that wealth does not have a strong influence on weight; it is more likely that weight influences wealth.
If weight does affect wealth, how does it do so? Perhaps overweight people are discriminated against in the workforce and therefore don’t earn as much as thin people. Women are often held to higher beauty standards — this could explain why women gained more wealth compared to men when they lost weight.
For those of you who are overweight, is learning that you could be $4,480 to $12,720 richer by losing weight an encouraging incentive?