Extra Weight Adds to Economic Woes | TARA PARKER-POPE | 07/22/10

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Read More: American Journal of Epidemiology, Obesity, Research

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Years of being overweight not only contribute to health problems but also to a person's economic woes, new research suggests.

Adults who have been overweight since high school are more likely to be unemployed or on welfare than those who gained weight gradually during their 20s and 30s, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. People who have been persistently overweight since high school also are more likely to be single at 40 and have no more than a high school education, compared to those who have gained weight slowly over time, the study showed.

"We know a lot about the fact that obesity is associated with a lot of health problems later on," said lead author Philippa J. Clarke of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. "But we tried to look at the social and economic consequences of being persistently overweight."

The findings are based on a study of 5,000 high school graduates tracked for two decades. The researchers studied two groups: those who were overweight at age 19 and stayed overweight as adults, compared to those who had a healthy weight at graduation but gained weight over time.

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