Retiring Early

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Overweight? Getting to retirement is going to be hard!

Obese ManI came across a Dec 2nd copy of the New York Times at the gym this morning and was curious how I missed this story. In the business section is an article called "Extra Weight, Higher Costs" that talks through a study attempting to correlate weight and net worth. It's an interesting premise. Before creating this post, I searched around and it appears a few other bloggers have already written about it, but that won't keep me from chiming in on it.

The article can be boiled down to a few core points:
  1. People with normal BMIs (Body Mass Index) earn more money than who are considered overweight or obese
  2. People with normal BMIs accumulate more in net worth
  3. People with normal BMIs inherit more than their overweight counterparts.
  4. Further, people with normal BMIs spend less on health care.
Wow. So not only do overweight people earn less, accumulate less and inherit less, but they also pay substantially more in health care costs. I know this is all logical and such, but when you boil it down that way, and couple it with the fact that overweight people generally live shorter lives, how can anyone honestly look themselves in the mirror and not want to take immediate action to improve their overall weight and health.

My favorite quote in article:
"...a unique twist on the calculations to determine what “supersizing” a fast-food meal costs society. Paying 67 cents to supersize an order — 73 percent more calories for 17 percent more money — adds an average of 36 grams of adipose tissue. The future medical costs for that bargain would be $6.64 for an obese man and $3.46 for an obese woman. “The hidden financial costs associated with weight gain from upsizing a value meal may help convince people it is not a bargain..."
Being overweight is hard and the battle to lose weight is hard. Keep up the battle, if not to save extra money, at least keep up the battle to save your longer-term health. Oh, and if you haven't seen this movie yet, go see it.


  • At 12/18/2006 12:23 PM, Blogger Eddie said…

    That was a really good article, thanks for sharing. I can't, for the life of me, understand why someone who is obese wouldn't wish to excercise and lose weight. I realize it's tough, as I have lost and gained weight, albeit in smaller amounts, since College. It's very doable, though.

  • At 12/22/2006 2:35 PM, Anonymous finance girl said…

    ewwww, that picture is ick!! totally agree with the article though, and all goes back to discipline, discipline, discipline.

    (PS I am so happy to be home! yay!)

  • At 1/02/2007 9:05 AM, Blogger fin_indie said…

    FG: Yeah, sorry for the pic, but it gets the point across :)

    Welcome home!

  • At 1/06/2007 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Those stats are interesting but as some of my professors would remind me they may suffer from lurking variables and the wrong direction of causality. It isn't, I don't think, that being obese makes you earn less money and accumulate less wealth, but rather, people with lower incomes and net worth tend to be more obese. (Being obese definitely does cause higher healthcare costs). It's all tied up in a web of correlations including education, wealth, and lifestyle. Richer, better educated folks can afford better food and generally take better care of themselves. The less fortunate eat foods that aren't as healthy and lead less healthy lifestyles (eg they smoke more). In short, correlation is not causation. While obese people tend to be poorer, it is not their obesity that makes them poor.

  • At 1/07/2007 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I read this article too fin_indie.

    People think that there is much more that people can do about obesity than there really is. If you take a large group of obese people and put them in a structured weight loss/exercise program, most of them will lose weight. The thing is, only 2 or 3% of them keep a significant amount of the weight off for five years. A 97% failure rate is not due to personal weakness or discipline. A 97% failure (an insignificant rate of success) is due to impossibility.

    Do 97% of high school students fail to get into Ivy League schools because they are lazy? Do 97% (or something like that) of people score under 136 IQ because they are failures? It's certainly not because the obese do not desire thinness enough. Many people would gladly risk a 10% chance of death to be thin.

    It's great for people to exercise and eat healthy food. You will be happier and healthier. But there is only one group of people in this world who successfully eat fewer calories than they need for years on end, and they suffer from the most lethal psychiatric disease known to humankind-anorexia nervosa.

    I would also agree with anonymous that poverty contributes to obesity. I think obesity also causes poverty though, in the same way that racism causes poverty: people (even the obese themselves) have a bias against obesity, and this drives down income. It seems very clear to me. jrodgers32


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