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Obesity Linked to Lower Paychecks

MONDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Obese Americans have smaller paychecks than those who aren't overweight, and this difference is especially strong among women, a new study finds.

The analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth revealed that in 2004, overall average annual incomes were $8,666 less for obese women and $4,772 less for obese men compared with normal weight workers.

In 2008, obese women made an average of $5,826 (15 percent) less than normal-weight females, the George Washington University researchers said.

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"This research broadens the growing body of evidence that shows that in addition to taxing health, obesity significantly affects personal finances," Christine Ferguson, a professor in the department of health policy, said in a university news release. "It also reinforces how prevalent stigma is when it comes to weight-related health issues."

She and her colleagues also found that race has a significant influence on weight-related differences in income. White women who were obese had lower wages in both 2004 and 2008 than normal-weight white women, while wages were lower for obese white men only in 2004.

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In 2004, Hispanic women who were obese earned $6,618 less than normal-weight Hispanic women. In 2008, the gap among women narrowed slightly but doubled for men. Hispanic men who were obese earned $8,394 less than normal weight Hispanic men.

In both 2004 and 2008, black men who were obese earned more than normal-weight black men, while wages were similar for obese and normal-weight black women.

Last year, George Washington University researchers found that the average annual costs of being obese were $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man. Those figures include indirect costs such as lost productivity and direct expenses such as medical care.

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