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Lose Weight, Gain Income

Bank balances rise as the pounds melt away, study finds

FRIDAY, July 8, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Losing weight may help fatten wallets, a new study finds.

"The typical person who loses or gains a few pounds had almost no change in wealth, but those who lost or gained large amounts of weight had a more dramatic change," study author Jay Zagorsky, research scientist at Ohio State University's Center for Human Resource Research, said in a prepared statement.

His study found that overweight Americans who shed a lot of pounds tended to build more wealth as they lost weight. That link found among white men, white women and black women. The weight fluctuations of black men didn't seem to affect their wealth, however.

The study found that white women who reduced their body mass index (BMI) by 10 points experienced an average wealth increase of $11,880. A similar decrease in BMI was linked to a wealth increase of $12,720 among white men and an increase of $4,480 among black women.

On the other hand, significant increases in BMI were linked to a medium-sized drop in wealth for black women and large wealth declines for white women. Similar weight gain had little impact on men's net wealth, however.

For the study, Zagorsky analyzed data on 7,300 people who took part in the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

Zagorsky said there's no way to tell from the data whether losing weight was the reason for the gain in wealth, but he believes there's a definite link. One possible explanation is that overweight and obese people face discrimination in the workplace and don't earn as much money as normal weight people.

But only dramatic change boosted bank accounts, he said. "If you really want to impact your wealth, you have to move from overweight or obese into the normal range. You can't just drop five or 10 pounds and change your wealth," Zagorsky said.

The study appears online in the "Articles in Press" section of the journal Economics and Human Biology.

More Information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers advice on losing weight safely.

SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, July 5, 2005
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