Health and Wealth: The Late-20th Century Obesity Epidemic in the U.S.
Posted: 4 Apr 2006
Obesity is a rapidly growing public health issue. This paper investigates obesity's relationship to individuals' wealth by analyzing data from a large U.S. longitudinal socio-economic survey. The results show a large negative association between BMI and White female's net worth, a smaller negative association for Black women and White males and no relationship for Black males. Weight changes and dieting also appear associated with wealth changes. Individuals who lose small amounts of weight experience little change in net worth, but those who lose large amounts of weight have a dramatically improved financial position, with Whites showing larger changes than Blacks.
Keywords: Obesity, U.S. body mass index, BMI; Weight, Personal wealth, Net worth, Social status, Race, Ethnicity, Gender
JEL Classification: I1, D31, J7
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation