Thin bodies, thin wallets? Not if you're a woman

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Is there a connection between fat and finance? A recent study by Dr. Olga Yakusheva, an assistant professor of economics at Marquette University, thinks so.

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According to Yakusheva, high-income men are more likely to be overweight than low-income men, whereas low-income women are more likely to be overweight than high-income women. The trend is most noticeable among women, Yakusheva said, where poor women are "really, really overweight" and rich women are "really, really skinny."

No big surprises for the men. Low income men tend to be in more physical jobs while upper income men usually have white collar jobs. But why are the poor women so overweight?I see this all the time with clients and families at the school where my husband teaches. These families often live in poor neighborhoods that have fast food drive-ins on every corner. Absent are high quality food markets with fresh fruits and vegetables. It becomes the norm to eat high fat, low nutrition fast food on a daily basis.

Too often, a hamburger, fries and coke are viewed as a "balanced diet" while they pack on the calories.This norm for eating and resulting weight gain are viewed as normal by too many of the poor people we see.

Recently, my husband told me of a grossly overweight 6th grader who could barely climb the stairs to the second floor of the school. The parents and several of the teachers thought she looked "cute" with this excess body fat and were shocked when my husband stated the potential health risks, including heart disease and diabetes. They are simply used to looking a obese children as normal.

While we continue to research cures for cancer, stem cell breakthroughs and disease management, maybe it is time to get back to the basics. How can we help people eat healthier and exercise more effectively? Many Americans apparently still do not know how to do this.

Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. For her FREE e-mail newsletter, please visit: The People Pro

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