Obesity Earns you 18% Less Than Those who are In-Shape

September 26, 2014

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Researchers from Lund University, Jönköping University, and Linneas University in Sweden have compared data collected from the United States, the United Kingdom, and of course, their own Sweden, and have found some very startling information.

It turns out that young men (28-39) who were already obese as teenagers can expect to earn 18% less in the labor-market than their in-shape counterparts. The results were extrapolated from data recorded from the Swedish National Service, or the mandatory military service in Sweden, and then compared with data from the British National Child Development Study and the US National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979.

The study examined many different aspects of young men, varying from their cognitive skills, non-cognitive skills, and their tax records.

This study is the first to show how male-obesity can affect earnings, where before studies had only shown how female obesity can cause issues in work-earnings.

The research showed that the wage penalty was attributed to the lower-than-average cognitive skills (such as memory, attention, logic and reasoning) and non-cognitive skills (such as motivation, self-confidence, sociability and persistence) that are typical of obese teenagers.

These findings reflected studies that showed how larger-bodied youths face discrimination at school from teachers and students, as well as bullying, all of which results in a lower self-esteem that seems to last through adolescence.

“Our results suggest that the rapid increase in childhood and adolescent obesity could have long-lasting effects on the economic growth and productivity of nations. We believe that the rationale for government intervention for these age groups is strong because children and adolescents are arguably less able to take future consequences of their actions into account,” says Paul Nystedt of Jönköping University.

“These results reinforce the importance of policy combating early-life obesity in order to reduce healthcare expenditures as well as poverty and inequalities later in life.”


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