Lose The Extra Weight and You Are Likely To Increase Your Wealth

by Millionaire Mommy Next Door on October 14, 2009

in Debt Reduction

In my last post, I shared the bummer news that being in debt doubles your risk of being overweight. Since the poll I included with my last post shows that roughly 45% of the readers who responded are overweight, I thought I’d share the encouraging news I dug up today:

Overweight Americans who lose a lot of weight also tend to build more wealth as they drop the pounds, according to new research.

The study found that the link between weight loss and wealth gains was particularly strong among white women. Black women and white men also gained wealth as they lost weight, but not as much as did white women. The wealth of black men was basically unaffected by their weight.

There’s no way to tell from the data whether losing weight was the reason for the gain in wealth, but the linkage was definitely there, said Jay Zagorsky, author of the study and a research scientist at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research.

“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,” Zagorsky said.

For example, white women who dropped their body mass index score (BMI) – a standard measure of obesity – by 10 points saw a wealth increase of $11,880. White men saw an increase of $12,720 for a similar drop, while black women increased wealth by $4,480.

Overall, the results showed that a one unit increase in a young person’s BMI was associated with a $1,300 or 8 percent reduction in wealth. But the changes varied dramatically by ethnicity and gender.

The study appears online in the “Articles in Press” section of the journal Economics and Human Biology. Read more here: Dieting Linked To Increased Wealth, Study Finds

The data doesn’t indicate whether a person’s wealth affects obesity or whether obesity affects wealth. However, an analysis of those in the study who received inheritances showed no dramatic changes in their BMI scores in the following years. This suggests that wealth does not have a strong influence on weight; it is more likely that weight influences wealth.

If weight does affect wealth, how does it do so? Perhaps overweight people are discriminated against in the workforce and therefore don’t earn as much as thin people. Women are often held to higher beauty standards — this could explain why women gained more wealth compared to men when they lost weight.

For those of you who are overweight, is learning that you could be $4,480 to $12,720 richer by losing weight an encouraging incentive?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Leanne October 14, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I’m confused as to why you (and the article you quote) note that white women see the greatest benefit from losing weight… From the figures cited in paragraph 5 of the quote, white men see a wealth increase of $840 more than white women.

Am I missing something?

Math aside, this is an intriguing point–that your weight has implications in areas of your life that aren’t immediately tied to what you eat/how you exercise/what size you wear. Kinda makes making the time to exercise/eat healthy seem less like an indulgence and more a matter of basic human rights/self-responsibility.

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Leanne October 14, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Err.. sorry for the errant bolding. I was trying to point to white *men* seeing an increase of *$850 more* than white men… not to bold the whole comment!

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Little House October 15, 2009 at 8:15 am

It’s an interesting point, that when women lost a lot of weight, there was a correlation with their income increasing. However, aren’t there just as many thin women who don’t make very much? How does this factor in?

-Little House

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Nick Pfennigwerth October 15, 2009 at 8:39 am

Well that makes total sense. Everything is an energy game. Your money is energy, your health, relationships, etc, etc. When you raise the vibration of one of the key areas of your life, in this case health, you increase the total vibration of your being. Therefore you have better health, relationships, more money and so on.

If you look at the root word and ancient meaning of wealth, it’s weal, meaning well-being. To have wealth means to have well-being. Money is only one component to your life. Having money doesn’t make you wealthy.

When you put energy toward all the key areas of your life and raise your vibrations in those areas, then you can have a complete and wealthy (well-being) life.

Got money problems? Go exercise, get fit, be healthy, and you’ll raise your vibration. Then some of your money problems will probably work themselves out.

Peace and Love,
Nick

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Alice October 15, 2009 at 10:35 am

Thanks for acknowledging that correlation doesn’t equal causation – a point that’s too often ignored in studies like these!

My personal hypothesis is that there are external factors that influence *both* weight and wealth – many illnesses contribute to higher weights, and can also impede your ability to accumulate wealth. Some of the behaviors needed to get wealthier are also ones helpful in dieting – commitment to delayed gratification, a willingness to put up with feelings of deprivation, etc.

I’d be interested to see how an analysis of health vs wealth comes out – there are a number of thin people who don’t pursue their health, just as there are heavier people who are objectively healthy, just with higher weights. There would seem to be a lot of contributing behaviors to indcate a correlation, but workplace discrimination, etc., could offset things a lot.

Im assuming that the reason they singled out white women is because the absolute increase in white men’s ‘wealth’ was a smaller % increase than the increase for white women. Neither of the articles I read broke that down, though.

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Toni October 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm

In my case it is reversed. I learned how to get out of debt. Once I was out of debt, I started to gain ‘wealth’, I had less stress and I could focus on my health and loose weight.

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Suzanne October 18, 2009 at 10:28 am

It has both to do with determination, motivation and will power. You can find that overweight people also produce more waste, often live unorganized lives, in less organized (read more messy) houses, etc. Debt just adds up to that list.

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yc October 18, 2009 at 11:26 am

It’s a correlation not necessarily causation thing again.

But there are all kinds of possible scenarios we can speculate freely on, since we don’t have to publish a scientific paper.

Recovered from chronic illness like, oh, chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia or something -> Got more energy -> Started exercising/moving about leading to less weight but also Able to get job so that increases wealth due to increased energy.

Or Got a job or better job or was otherwise financially successful -> more time to exercise

Or Got over depression -> better control of weight as well as ability to get out and make money

And of course there’s weight based discrimination in the workplace.

PS – thanks for your reply to my comment last time, I did tweet with your userID.

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MoneyEnergy October 18, 2009 at 11:24 pm

I like Nick’s comment above. Improving one area of your life will lead to confidence and motivation to improve others. And will create synergistic effects that might lead to more overall energy and awareness than if you had not done so.

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Cecelia October 22, 2009 at 11:40 am

I have to agree with the others that it’s the gained confidence that allows people to save more. Losing weight forces you to reassess your life in a serious way.

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Cath Lawson October 23, 2009 at 11:03 pm

LOL Jen – I knew that poorer people are often obese, due to not knowing how to eat healthy or not being able to afford to. But I didn’t know that losing weight makes you richer.

Mind you, when I started to make a lot more money, a few years ago, my weight plummeted – I was super skinny. But I think that’s because I was working all the time and not eating enough.

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Nathan October 28, 2009 at 10:15 pm

I’ve seen this research too, and I think emotional state has a lot to do with it. The notion that people losing weight suddenly earn more is far less likely then they’re simply spending less.

When you’re losing weight, you’re feeling physically healthier, you’re getting compliments, and you feel happier within yourself. So as a consequence, you’re less likely to partake in “retail therapy” to feel better about yourself. You won’t be thinking about that new pair of shoes. You won’t be thinking about eating fast-food (which like it or not is can be far more expensive then home cooked can be). Small things make a big difference over time. $2 a day in a jar mightn’t seem like much, but over the course of a year that’s over $700 – and who wouldn’t like to be given that?

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anna November 28, 2009 at 10:54 am

I do agree with Alice – there’s probably a strong corellation between losing weight and becoming wealthier simply because both things are brough about by learning similar behaviors. Increase in self-discipline, self-awareness, delayed gratification never hurt anyone. And as Nathan pointed out, as a result of healthier lifestyle (we’re not talking about extreme dieting here, right?), energy levels increase as well. I really don’t think the corellation has something to do with discrimination of the overweight per se, but it has lots to do with how people change and present themselves depending on their self-perseption.

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Moneyblogga January 23, 2010 at 11:52 am

In my own personal experience, conquering my abhorrent spending habits and getting my weight into check means one thing: I have conquered the addictions that resulted from years of childhood emotional and physical abuse. Realizing that I would never ‘feel better’ if I remained fat (overeating) and in debt (overspending), I confronted my negative emotions and now deal with them in healthier ways. There are myriad reasons for people being in debt or being overweight but mine was firmly rooted in a poor, abusive childhood.

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