Being obese may cost a person’s health, but it takes a toll on the wallet as well—especially for women, according to a recent study.
Researchers at George Washington University report that the cumulative dollar-and-cents cost of obesity for men is about half as much as it is for women. The study, cleverly titled, “A Heavy Burden,” found that, on average, obesity costs women $4,879 annually—compared to $2,646 for men.
In addition to medical bills, researchers looked at the cost of sick days, extra gasoline and lost productivity. Not-so-surprisingly, thinner women get paid more, statistically speaking, than obese women.
“If you are an obese woman, you’re much more likely to be earning significantly less,” said Christine Ferguson, one of the co-authors of the study. However, “for men who are overweight or obese, it does not affect their wages.” (Ferguson says her next study is going to explore why that is.)
Tallying the price of obesity might encourage policy makers to consider spending more prevention and education.
“We’re paying a very high price as a society for obesity,” said Dr. Kevin Schulman, a professor of medicine and health economist at Duke University. “We’re creating obesity and we need to do a man-on-the-moon effort to solve this before those poor kids in elementary school become diabetic middle-aged people.”