Improve Your Net Worth By Staying Slim

Could we stop the obesity epidemic dead in its tracks if people knew there was a correlation between losing weight and gaining wealth? According to a review of 15 years worth of data, one's weight changes may indeed be related to his or her personal net worth.

The findings:

  • People who maintained a normal body mass index (BMI) generally had the highest net worth.
  • Obese people who lost a significant amount of weight tended to see their wealth increase.
  • Minor weight changes showed little financial effect.

Based on their obesity, white women stood to lose the most net worth when their BMI increased. Conversely, being thin helped white women more than any other group studied. In terms of dollars, the typical white male who trims 10 points off his BMI increased his wealth by almost $13,000.

One big caveat: This pattern didn't track when it came to black men. Generally, obese black men had a greater net worth than the slimmer black men and there was no clear link between BMI and wealth among African-American males.

The reasons researchers attributed to the wealth/obesity link make sense to me. Not only do obese patients often face problems with discrimination in the workplace, they waste money on excess food -- probably of the processed kind -- and desperate "cure-alls" like bariatric surgery.

Economics & Human Biology, Vol. 3, Issue 2, July 2005: 296-313

Yahoo News July 21, 2005

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