Gallup Poll: Unemployment Linked to Weight Gain, Obesity

by Cheryl Ann Borne Patient Advocate

It has been nearly five years since the American job market tanked. The Great Recession tore a hole in the economy big enough to drive a train through and now, finally, we are at the point where it all began.

The total number of private sector jobs is at the level it was when this particular derailment first occured in early 2008. The problem is that this number is still far too low to accommodate the number of people who have entered the workforce since that time or address the backlog of the jobless who are seeking work.

If you are one of the many long-term unemployed, the bar may have been raised regarding your efforts to find work because, as it turns out, a good number of the long-term unemployed have grown obese during the hiatus.

The Consequences of Weight Gain During Long-Term Unemployment

A recent Gallup poll found that Americans who have been out of work for more than one year are much more likely to pack on pounds to the point of obesity. Long-term joblessness of 27 weeks or more remains at critical mass while the economy continues its painfully slow rebound. Gallup discovered that the rate of obesity rises from 22.8 percent for those unemployed for two weeks or less to 32.7 percent for those unemployed for 52 weeks or more.

One of the concerns regarding this unfortunate trend is that manufacturing and construction jobs that require manual labor will not be made available to those who are out of condition. Workers in these fields are now that much more likely to remain caught in his unpleasant cycle and in poor health. In addition, private employers may be hesitant to hire candidates who have greater health risks due to the high cost of health care. One of the implications is that poor health among the long-term unemployed may not be righted after a return to the workforce.

Health Issues of the Long-Term Unemployed

Health issues among the long-term unemployed are much more prevalent than among the short-term unemployed. Those who have been without work for 27 weeks or longer are nearly twice as likely to say they have obesity-related health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Causation for the relationship between long-term unemployment and obesity-related health conditions is not clear. Although, it is suspected that the long-term unemployed may engage in a pattern of unhealthy behaviors. Those with pre-existing conditions may simply have a difficult time finding and keeping work because of their conditions.

The long-term unemployed may also be subject to a higher incidence of health problems that can affect their ability to secure a job. People out of work for 27 weeks or more report an average of 4.7 days out of every 30 when health issues prevented them from engaging in their normal activities. Those who were unemloyed for shorter periods reported only 2.8 days compromised out of every 30 days due to health concerns. Full-time workers reported just 1.4 days of interruption due to health issues.

Cheryl Ann Borne
Meet Our Writer
Cheryl Ann Borne

Cheryl Ann Borne, writing as My Bariatric Life, is a contributing writer and Paleo recipe developer. Cheryl is an award-winning healthcare communications professional and obesity health advocate who has overcome super obesity and it’s related diseases. She publishes the website, and microblogs on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Cheryl is also writing her first book and working on a second website.