HR Strange But True!
January 12, 2012

Higher numbers on the bathroom scale are resulting in lower numbers on paychecks, according to a new report by George Washington University researchers.

“… [I]n addition to taxing health, obesity significantly affects personal finances,” said Christine Ferguson, J.D., professor in the GW Department of Health Policy and a co-author of the report.

And, surprisingly, the report finds that women—thought to be more weight-conscious than men—are more greatly impacted by the extra pounds than are men.

GW Researchers used federal surveys from 2004 to 2008 to quantify obesity-attributable wage gaps and found the connection between obesity and reduced wages to be stronger among females than males. In 2004, wages among the obese were $8,666 less for females and $4,772 lower for males.  In 2008, wages were $5,826 less for obese females, a 14.6% penalty over normal weight females, according to the press release.

Why? The report noted that wage disparities were greater for individuals, especially women, who held jobs “requiring a high degree of social interaction,” often meaning contact with customers such as retail, hospitality, and health care. Ferguson said this “reinforces how prevalent stigma is when it comes to weight-related health issues."


George Washington University (press release)

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