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Study

Obese women in Canada make less money than non-obese women

London - According to a study completed at Western University, obese women in the Canadian workforce earn less money than non-obese women. Sisira Sarma, PhD, and his team from Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, analyzed data on adults, 18 to 53 years old, from the National Population Health Survey between 2000 and 2011.

Sarma’s team compared three outcomes in obese women and non-obese women – labour market participation, the hourly wage rate and personal annual income. Obese women are defined as women with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, and non-obese women, including those who are overweight, have a BMI of 18.5 to 29.9.

The research showed that obesity is associated with a reduced hourly wage rate and annual income among women by approximately four per cent and 4.5 per cent, respectively. From 2010 to 2011, obese women earned an average of $18.90 an hour or $37,972.26 annually. In comparison, non-obese women earned on average $22 an hour or $42,492.67 annually. There was no significant difference in labour market participation.

Sarma believes that there may be a few different reasons for the difference in income. “Women who are obese may be discriminated against due to a perception by some employers that they may be less productive,” said Sarma. “Employers may offer jobs at a less competitive rate, or women who are obese settle for jobs with a lower income. However, having a lower income may be the cause of obesity.”

The data also reveals differences between obese and non-obese women in terms of education level and health indicators.

In 2010 and 2011, 10.5 per cent of obese women reported having less than a high school education, compared with 5.73 per cent of non-obese women.

During the same period, 47.06 per cent of obese woman had a post-secondary education compared with 58.97 per cent of non-obese women.

Obese women were significantly less likely to classify their health as excellent compared with non-obese women – 9.47 per cent and 23.52 per cent respectively.

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