Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

Obese 'struggle to earn living'

fat man measuring his belly.
One in three adults in the UK are expected to be obese by 2012

Obese people are struggling to earn above the national average income, according to a survey.

Just under half (46%) earn more than £20,000 a year, which is the national average, while the majority earn between £10,000 and £15,000.

The survey conducted by YouGov also indicates that only 5% of people feel their weight has held them back.

But one charity said there was no doubt obesity affected work, through prejudice and health problems.

One in three adults in the UK are expected to be obese by 2012.

Negative impact

The survey questioned a representative survey of 2,056 UK adults and was commissioned by a private health business, The Hospital Group.

More than half (53%) said they were overweight or obese compared with 45% who were normal or underweight.

There is good evidence that the less control you have over your work, the more stressed you feel, and the lower income you earn, the lower your life expectancy
Dr Ian Campbell, Weight Concern

The overweight or obese said their weight had a negative impact on their ability to take part in leisure activities - 23% mentioned cycling, swimming and running and 14% said it affected their sex lives.

They also described some of the ways their weight had held them back in their careers.

One person said they could not comply with the Marine and Coastguard Agency limits for a licence.

Another admitted they had taken too many days off because of illness.

And many of them said there was a perception at work that they were lazy but the level of their output did not support that.

However, nearly a third ( 31%) said they disagreed with the idea that their weight had held them back in their careers.

Social prejudice

Dr Ian Campbell, of the charity Weight Concern, said there was no doubt that being obese made it harder for an individual to find higher paid employment due to social prejudice and medical problems.

He said: "There is good evidence that the less control you have over your work, the more stressed you feel, and the lower income you earn, the lower your life expectancy.

"People living in lower socio-economic conditions have a greater risk of obesity through less control of their environment, poorer nutrition, and less opportunity for physical activity.

"Particularly in the current recession we are seeing more people turning away from healthy, more expensive fruit and vegetables, to cheaper processed fatty foods."

'Bankrupt'

The Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Norman Lamb said: "Obesity is a massive problem in the UK and the Government has failed to address it adequately.

"NHS finances are already overstretched and unless we get more people to lead healthier lifestyles then obesity could bankrupt the health service.

"This report makes for particularly disturbing reading as it highlights the worrying link between poverty and obesity.

"Until we stop trying to dictate policy nationally and give people the freedom to tackle public health problems locally, this cycle of poverty and ill health is likely to continue."



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