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Obesity Costs a Woman Thousands of Dollars a Year 2010-09-28 14:30:57

Obesity Costs a Woman Thousands of Dollars a Year

The low number a woman sees on her bank statement might reflect the high number she confronts when she steps on the scale.

Extra weight costs an obese woman an average of $4,879 per year, compared to the $2,646 an overweight man pays. Most of these losses come in the form of lower wages — obese women earn less than thinner women, according to new research, while male wages don't significantly vary based on weight. One expert guesses that society likely perceives obese women differently than obese men, leading to more workplace discrimination.

The double standard also translates to the bedroom. Another recent study found that obesity affects women's ability to get laid, while obese men don't have much trouble. But more than a male bias for thinness was behind the findings. The reason given: overweight women tend to suffer from depression and low self-esteem, making them less likely to put themselves out there.


Maybe there's hope (besides losing all the weight). Consider yet another study that videotaped men and women as they entered a room and introduced themselves. Viewers rated subjects on physical attractiveness, emotional expressiveness, and social skills. All three contributed to the person's likability, but physical attractiveness mattered least, suggesting personality can trump physical appearance.

Do you think confidence and charm are enough to overcome society's pricey bias against obesity?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
JennieBo JennieBo 6 years
Hmm, interesting. However, the stats you gave at the beginning of the article - that obesity costs women something like $4800 a year - how did yall come up with that? Do you just mean that because of pay differentials, etc., that $4800 is the approximately yearly cost? I'd be interested in knowing what else factored into that statistic!
Spectra Spectra 6 years
I think it's probably more of a correlation thing vs. a causation. Obese women don't automatically earn less, but there could be several factors involved in WHY they earn less. Not to over-generalize, but a lot of the obese people I know are not very highly educated. Consequently, many of them know little about nutrition/exercise and are overweight. Many women that are more highly educated are probably also thinner because they know a little more about what foods to eat to stay thin. Of course, there are always going to be well-educated women that are obese, but I'm sure they make plenty of money and aren't discriminated against because of their weight.
stephley stephley 6 years
Well when you're paid less than everyone else, fast food an affordable option.
janeaustenrules janeaustenrules 6 years
I've performed a literature search and there is no credible scientific study linking motherhood to obesity. Moreover, I have been unable to locate any scientific data to support the suggestion that pregnancy or motherhood has any affect on metabolism following cessation of breastfeeding. During pregnancy, the metabolic rate adjusts to compensate for the increased needs of the fetus (a fetus requires approximately 85,000 calories to develop to full term) and during the postpartum period, up to 500 calories a day are needed above the basal metabolic rate to account for the increased demands on the body due to breast-feeding. After cessation of breastfeeding there is no difference in the metabolism of a woman who has had a child compared to a woman who has not. If the woman gained excessive weight during pregnance (i.e. consumed calories above the combined caloric needs of her and the fetus), her metabolism will react the same way any person who is attempting weight-loss will react. In addition, although I have not read the study referred to in this article - there is a distinction between being overweight and being obese. Most definitions of obesity involve a BMI of over 30, which would mean a significant weight gain which would signify a weight gain in excess of the recommended guidelines for pregnant women. Accordingly, like Betty Wayne has stated, any anecdotal correlation between motherhood and obesity is due to the same lifestyle issues that all individuals face - calories in exceed calories out.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 6 years
It honestly does surprise me that there's supposedly a correlation with motherhood and obesity and it's related to a drastic change in metabolism. I guess all the mothers I know eat healthy and exercise, like anyone should. All the obese people I know either have no children or they're men. I mean, to gain a little weight isn't unusual but to become straight up obese and stay that way? That's a lifestyle choice, though I'm sure there are plenty of obese women who use their children as an excuse for their weight problems. Your friend can lose the weight, I mean it might take a while but she can. I know a woman who put in well over 100 lbs during her pregnancy and now she's about a size 6 to 8. Weight gain is never permanent, it's a shame so many people think it is.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 6 years
Number one is... overeating? And number two is... lack of exercise? I'd be interested in seeing a link for that study if you can find it, I'd also like to add that mothers have the option of exercising and eating healthy, and any woman who gains significant weight after having a child is doing so by choice. Though I would think that your metabolism would return to normal eventually. I would be interested to know what percent of mothers are obese vs what percent of women without children are obese, and also what percentage of obese mothers were at a healthy weight before they had their children; not to mention the fact that your metabolism slows as you age and a lot of women bear children as their metabolism is naturally decreasing anyway. This study was based only on obese women who work full time, obese stay-at-home mothers and obese part time workers weren't even counted. And an obese woman earns 6% less than a healthy-weight woman, I'm not sure what difference that might make but I thought I'd mention it. I'm not completely buying your argument that motherhood makes a significant percentage of women fat and unfocused on their careers, and therefore results in lower wages for obese women overall. Though I'm not saying I completely disagree either. I'm just very unconvinced.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 6 years
Are obesity and motherhood correlated? I'm not arguing, it's just that I've never heard that before. I wouldn't have thought there would be that much of a difference... obese women do have a harder time getting laid. There's no such thing as a bad excuse to eat light and exercise. If telling an obese woman she'll earn more is what it takes for her to get in shape, I'm all in favor of it.
dancinlaughin01 dancinlaughin01 6 years
great, another pressure on women to be thin.
lilegwene lilegwene 6 years
Leaping from one research's conclusions to legislation is jumping the gun, to say the least. Lower wages for obese women can be sexism, differing opinions on obesity (ie obese man = jolly, obese woman = lazy), or even related to the low self-esteem cited in the same article.... women are less likely to value themselves as worth more, or less likely to press for a raise.
stephley stephley 6 years
really, not rally.
stephley stephley 6 years
Good lord, in this political climate?!? You'll be burned at the stake for saying that. (I'm with you on the ERA, but rally snowballs & hell come to mind!)
stephley stephley 6 years
I can’t say that any of the overweight women I’m related to, friends with or have worked with neatly fit any stereotype of low energy, underachiever. They’re lawyers, television producers and teachers, not careers that are kind to slackers. For there to be a measurable difference in the salaries of obese women versus thin women, discrimination has to be a serious factor.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 6 years
I have friends who are overweight, and I'm certainly attracted to their charm in a friendly way, but I could never date someone who was overweight. It's just a physical attraction thing. It wouldn't be there.
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