Overweight and obesity: 20% less income at the start of your career

According to a Swedish study, obese teenagers could receive an 18% lower salary when they enter the market, compared to teenagers of normal weight. A discriminatory phenomenon observed in Europe, but also in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Are we now moving towards a two-speed economy based on body weight? Studies have already shown that some insurance companies penalize their overweight affiliates. Others revealed that the obese young woman was often discriminated against in the job market.

This new comparative study between the Swedish, British and American labor markets suggests that boys, too, are not spared from this segregationist phenomenon.

The unpleasant surprise of the link between overweight and income

The authors analyzed the anthropometric, cognitive and non-cognitive data (self-esteem, motivation, sociability, etc.) of a sample of 145,193 young Swedes requisitioned for their military service between 1984 and 1997. The data from the tax administration informing the incomes were then assessed in 2003 for all individuals, aged 28 to 39 at the time. These figures were then compared with the British and American situations.

Almost 20% less salary

The verdict is clear for young people already obese or overweight in adolescence: on average, they earn almost 18% less than their normal-weight counterparts. However, this observation is not valid for young men who become obese later in life.

To put this difference into perspective, the authors calculated that in Sweden, on average, each additional year of schooling is accompanied by an increase in income of around 6%. For obese young people, the penalty would therefore be equivalent to 3 years of schooling, ie a baccalaureate… For the authors of the study, this observation should be taken into account in policies aimed at combating social inequalities.

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Lundborg P. Body size, skills, and income: evidence from 150,000 teenage siblings. Demography

* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice. []

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