This can be a taboo subject. I’ve been reading up on social norms and discrimination lately (don’t ask why), and I came across some very interesting data regarding career ascension and weight. According to Carol Graham, PhD (U. Wisconsin, Brookings Institute), being obese negatively correlates with upward income mobility. This finding directly shows that being too overweight can cost us economically in addition to the physical toll on our bodies. The explanation is that there’s a stigma attached to being obese in high income positions. Therefore, whether it’s discrimination or low expectations of advancement among obese people, carrying too much weight can affect our ability to advance our careers. This is serious when you consider that 60 million people in the United States are considered obese by the CDC (BMI over 30).
I wonder if anyone has completed a study calculating lost lifetime income for every 1 BMI point above 30? I’m sure it’s on some health economist’s desk. That study would give new meaning to the term “piggy bank.”
OK, seriously, that kind of data could begin to stem the tide of epidemic obesity has on the nation. It’s a question of providing the right motivation along with the right support and clearly there aren’t answers.
Over the past 30 years, the obesity rate has jumped so significantly, correlated with the plummeting price of high calorie food, fast food proliferation, and technological advances. You would expect a burgeoning waistline based on this rate of progress. Our jobs are more sedentary. How much time do you spend in front of a computer everyday? Ultimately it’s up to us to stay in shape, but now we have an idea that it can truly “cost” more to gain weight.
On that note, I’m going for a run.