One More Strike Against Women in Debt: They're Usually Obese, Too

We disparage them because they are overweight.  They develop serious diseases and often die younger. And now obese women are paying an even bigger price.  

Researchers in Lafayette College’s department of economics have learned that women who are struggling to pay bills are more likely to be obese, and men who are struggling to pay bills are more likely to be thin. 

“It’s no secret that there is a substantial correlation between household debt and health,” Susan Averett, economics professor at Lafayette is quoted at newswise.com, “and research has shown that individuals with less healthy lifestyles are more likely to hold debt.”

They studied men and women holding credit card debt and having trouble paying bills, and three outcomes: overweight, obese and Body Mass Index (BMI).

There's no smoking gun but “Individuals with less healthy lifestyles are more likely to hold debt, yet there is little evidence as to whether this is merely a correlation or if financial hardship actually causes obesity,” says Averett at newswise.com. While their results reveal no causal relationship between credit card debt and overweight or obesity for either men or women, Averett says they did find suggestive evidence that having trouble paying bills may be a cause of obesity for women, but not men.

Why?  Maybe we eat more when we're stressed while men tend to tough it out?  “For men, having trouble paying the bills tends to reduce the probability of being obese, while it appears to raise the probability of obesity for women," says Averett at newswise.com.

Here's one possible explanation: “Both men and women at the lower end of the income distribution may be relying on the same cheap calorie-dense foods as they struggle financially,” Averett points out. “However, men at the lower end of the income distribution tend to have occupations that often require more manual labor, thus they are often expending more calories at work."

Sounds a little too simple to me.  Plenty of women work in labor-intensive jobs.  I'm sure we'll eventually find out it has something to do with hormones and the ability to bear a child (we need more fat, remember).  But I can't help thinking it's just one more way men come out on top!


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