Study: Extra Weight Takes Toll on Women's Careers and Salaries

For as long as Americans have had a weight problem, there's been a persistent if sexist belief that men can more easily get away hauling around a few extra pounds, and not have it take a toll on their careers.

Researchers in Iceland, however, now have fresh data proving it. A new study shows that that not only are men's job opportunities and salaries unaffected by a bit of extra girth, they actually benefit from it, albeit slightly. Meanwhile, extra weight was found to have a slight negative effect on the employment rate and pay of women, according to a report at

The results were published in the March issue of the journal Economics and Human Biology. Iceland was chosen because there's greater parity among the sexes, according to a study of 134 countries by the World Economic Forum.

Findings from the Iceland study mirror those of a 2009 study in the U.S., LiveScience noted. "There does seem to be a penalty for women," said University of Michigan professor Edward Norton, who conducted that study. Overweight women "seem to be paid less."

But, he said, "the general finding is that there is not much effect for men. If anything, larger men were paid more."

Norton said he wasn't surprised that the results from the latest Iceland survey mimic his own.

"There is something in Western society that seems to penalize women for being overweight," he said.

A separate study conducted by University of Florida researchers found that women 25 pounds above average weight earned nearly $14,000 a year less than average-weight females, LiveScience noted.

The findings from both studies give greater credence to the need for unemployed women and those looking to change jobs to maintain or begin a physical fitness regimen, said personal trainer Adam Gilbert.

"It is a very worthwhile investment," said Gilbert, founder of My Body Tutor, a personal training website. "The better you look and the better you feel, there's more of a likelihood you are going to be getting a job."

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