Viewing entries tagged

Unemployment and Obesity: the Vicious Cycle

Unemployment and Obesity: the Vicious Cycle

Two of the biggest problems facing America today are unemployment and obesity – two seemingly unrelated but equally serious issues.  After some of the most difficult economic times since the 1930s, America’s unemployment levels peaked at almost 10% in 2009, leveling out to around 6.3% today[1].  Obesity, likewise, has more than doubled for both adults and children in the US since the 1970s, with around 69% of adults being overweight or obese, and 35% being obese[2].  More and more studies, however, are investigating the link between unemployment and obesity and as results start to flood in, it seems that they are not as unrelated as they seemed. 


Studies are starting to show that there is a significant link between unemployment and obesity, especially amongst unskilled workers who are struggling to find work.  In fact, a Gallup study suggests that if you are between 18 and 44 and unemployed, you are 30% more likely to be obese than your counterparts in full-time employment[3].  High-skilled workers, who may have had sedentary jobs that led them to develop their own fitness plan are more likely to continue exercising and may have savings to help them to eat healthy after losing employment.  Low-skilled workers, alternatively, tend to work physical jobs and use that to burn calories.  When the job is lost, their only form of exercise goes with it, and it can be difficult to get out of a cycle of watching TV and eating junk food[4].  Of course, these are sweeping generalisations but the statistics are hard to ignore.