Upsettingly, according to a new study, a correlation has been drawn between women weighing more and earning less. Much research has been done before now into the the ways in which your socioeconomic status can affect your BMI, overall health and height, but this is the first study that has chronicled the effects that a person’s weight or height can have on their earning ability.
For men, it seems those who are taller earn more money while on the female side of things, you’ve got to remain slim. Grim. Why do taller men and slimmer women earn more than their shorter, larger colleagues?
As reported in The Guardian, researchers from Exeter University have discovered that for every 2.5 inches in height resulting purely from a man’s genetics, his annual income increases by nearly £1600. A considerable amount if we’re to put that down to nothing more than his height. Explained by co-author Professor Timothy Frayling, it’s a rather more miserable affair for women. If a woman has a genetically predicted weight that is two stone heavier than another woman of the same height, she is set to lose out on nearly £3000 in annual income. Excuse us while we pick our jaws up off the floor.
“This is the strongest evidence by far that there is a causal link from being a bit overweight as a women, being a bit shorter as man, to doing worse in life. This won’t apply in every case. Many shorter men and overweight women are very successful, but science must now ask why we are seeing this pattern. Is this down to factors such as low self-esteem or depression, or is it more to do with discrimination? In a world where we are obsessed with body image, are employers biased? That would be bad both for the individuals involved and for society.”
“If you could take the same woman – same intellect, same CV, same background – and send her through life a stone heavier, she would be about £1,500 per year worse off. And if you took the same man – say a 5ft 10in man and make him 5ft 7in – and sent him through life, he would be about £1,500 worse off per year.”
Arriving at these unsettling conclusions, Frayling and his team used an approach known Mendelian randomisation to take a closer look at these patterns. From analysing data gathered by the UK Biobank, they were able to examine measured observations and genetic variants with regard to heigh and BMI for 119,669 white British men and women between the ages of 40 and 70. They watched closely for the five socio-economic markers of annual household income, job class, education level and something known as the Townsend deprivation index, which is a measure of the level of deprivation for a given postcode. Again, grim. “It’s like doing a randomised control trial,” the co-author explains.
As far as height was concerned, the scientists were able to determine that for every 6.3cm of height, the annual household income increased by around £1580, but only for men. There was still an increase for women but it was much smaller. Then when it came to weight and BMI, two particular socio-economic factors were found to be affected: annual household income and level of deprivation. However, this was only in relation to women. As explained by The Guardian, an increase in BMI of 4.6kg/m2 (around two stone for a woman of average height), as predicted by genetics, led to the reduction of a woman’s annual household income by around £2940.
So, sadly, we know there’s a definite link, but as for why it happens, or what’s driving this pattern, more research will need to be carried out.
Via The Guardian.