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How Extra Pounds Cost You

Posted By timparker On 10/25/2011 @ 2:25 pm In Personal Finance | 2 Comments

Remember way back in January when you made that resolution to get serious about losing weight? You said, “this is the year that I actually do it and quit talking about it.” How’s it going so far? Two/thirds of Americans are now overweight or obese and out of the 45% who made the resolution to lose weight, a sad 7% will actually follow through and have results to show for their efforts.

There is no doubt that the reason that you should think about shedding the extra pounds is for yourself and because you want to be there for your family and friends for years to come but there are financial reasons too. Numerous studies show that obese people make less money than those who are thin. Is it fair? No. Is it ethical? No. Is it reality? Yes, and that’s what we have to address when talking about money.

Costs to the Nation

Not only does obesity affect the person but the nation’s obese cost the country a combined $100 billion each year. But the goal is to give you a reason to start down a path of improved health so let’s look at some numbers. If you’re a woman, you spend an average of $830 per month more to service your obesity where men spend an average of $650. What would you do with an extra $8,000 next year?

Let’s assume that you’re a 37 year old woman who is obese and over 3 years you lose enough weight to cut that $830 down to $400. If you took the money you saved each year and invested it in a retirement account at a conservative 4% interest rate, after 20 years you would have an extra $132,000! Of course these numbers are approximate but one thing is clear: Those who are not overweight save a considerable amount of money on yearly expenses.

Now it Gets Really Unfair

How about at the office? The Journal of Applied Psychology found that an average woman who weighed 104 pounds was paid as much as $22,000 more annually than a women weighing 164 pounds. One theory that the authors described was that a woman who cares enough to take care of themselves is a better care taker of company affairs. If she can’t take care of herself, she can’t take care of the company. It may not be fair but the authors found evidence to suggest it.

And Even More Unfair

We’ve beat up on the women but for the men, there is very little correlation between overweight and less pay. In fact, being a bit obese may actually be a good thing for their paycheck. 207 pounds seems to be the sweet spot for the best paycheck in males which is approximately 15-20 pounds overweight for a six foot male.

Finally, because severely overweight people die 10 years earlier than their thinner counterparts, the loss of income that comes from an early death and the extra days missed at work adds up for companies, insurance companies, and the individual. Insurance companies report paying an extra $1,400 per year for each obese policy holder.

You can live a fulfilled life being poor and healthy but it’s exceedingly difficult to live the life you want being rich and sick. Money may be a small motivating factor in your quest for health but much more important than that, you have people in your life that care deeply about you and your absence would not just affect you, but also those who care about you. Be healthy for yourself first, your loved ones second, and somewhere down the list, for your money.

(Photo: alancleaver [3])


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