The longer Americans are unemployed, the more likely they are to get fat, according to results of a new Gallup poll. Their data show that Americans who have been out of work for more than a year are more likely to be obese than the short-term unemployed.
“With record-setting rates of long-term unemployment in most U.S. states, the health consequences of extended periods of joblessness have become a rising concern for policymakers,” the report says.
Gallup researchers interviewed nearly 18,000 unemployed Americans last year, and determined that the obesity rate for people who have been out of work for 52 weeks or more is 32.7 percent, but just 22.8 percent for those who had not had a job for less time. Long-term unemployed people are also more likely to report high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Though the correlation is strong, the cause is still unclear.
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“Unemployment may cause some people to engage in behaviors that lead to health problems, while pre-existing health conditions may make it harder for others to find and keep work,” the researchers wrote.
“For many individuals, both dynamics may be at work, perpetuating a negative cycle of declining job prospects and worsening health.”