Overweight? You May Be Getting Paid Less

A report released by George Washington University says obese women get paid less than normal-weight coworkers.

Illustrated graph courtesy of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.

Two out of three Americans are overweight, and it’s affecting their paychecks.

A report released by researchers at George Washington University found a connection between obesity and smaller paychecks—even more so among women.

Researchers analyzed data collected from the 2004 and 2008 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which provides information on earnings, education, employment status, and health. They examined 2004 for pre-recession data and 2008 to account for the height of the recession.

They found that while both obese men and women received lower salaries, the connection between weight and reduced wages was “stronger and more persistent” among women than among men. Obese women received $8,666 less in 2004 and $5,826 less in 2008—almost 15 percent less than women of normal weight.

The report also recorded wage differences among racial groups. Overweight Hispanic men experienced little difference in 2004, but received $8,394 less in 2008. Overweight African-American males, on the other hand, received higher wages than those who were normal weight during both years.

So why the disparity? Jobs requiring social interaction have a lot to do with it, the report says. “Wage penalties are greater for individuals, females in particular, who are employed in jobs requiring a high degree of social interaction.”

Other causes could be perceptions of reduced employee productivity, increased medical costs, and employer or customer preference.

To read the full report, click here.