Speed Reads

Tightened Belts, Expanded Waistlines

Unemployment and weight gain piling up into vicious cycle


The Washington Post reports on one aspect of the sagging economy that has not received very much attention: High obesity rates in those areas with greater unemployment.

David Farrell, a 52-year-old Hagerstown [Maryland] resident who had lost his job in retail, saw his weight increase more than 50 pounds recently during a year spent without a job.

"When you're defeated, you get depressed," he said. "When you get depressed, most people have a vice. They either smoke or they eat, whatever." He ate.

"Anything," he said. "Junk food. It didn't matter." [The Washington Post]

For lower-skilled workers, unemployment can result in both lower consumption of nutritious foods, and also in less time spent on physically demanding activities. And the problem gets worse from there — as obese job-seekers face extra difficulties in finding new employment, ranging from stigmatization to failure to meet physical requirements.