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Obesity stigma tied to hefty pay cut

Dec. 5, 2011 at 10:07 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Wages were $8,666 lower for women and $4,772 lower for men in 2004, compared to those of normal weight, U.S. researchers found.

Christine Ferguson, a professor in the department of health policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Service, examined the years 2004 and 2008 in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to quantify wage gaps attributable to obesity.

The research team found the connection between obesity and reduced wages to be stronger and more persistent among females than males. In 2008, wages for obese females were $5,826 lower than for normal weight women, a 14.6 percent penalty.

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

In 2004, Hispanic women who were obese earned $6,618 less than those who were normal weight. In 2008, the differential doubled for Hispanic men who were obese, to earnings of $8,394 less than normal weight counterparts, while for women the gap narrowed slightly, Ferguson added.

For both genders and all racial categories except Hispanic men, the wage differential narrowed from 2004 to 2008, even as the economy worsened. Burt Caucasian women who are obese experienced a wage penalty in both 2004 and 2008, Caucasian men only experienced a differential in 2004.

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