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Unpaid Rent can increase Women’s Waistlines, Study Reports

Update Date: Feb 06, 2014 03:19 PM EST

Several varying factors, ranging from food to stress, can increase people's weights. In a new study, researchers identified another factor that could contribute to weight gain specifically for women. According to this study, women who have difficulty paying bills, such as rent, have a harder time maintaining their body weight.

The team of economists with lead author Susan Averett examined participants between the ages of 18 and 28 from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent health. The survey provided data on the weight and financial status of the men and women. Using this information, the researchers wanted to find out which factor, financial status or obesity, comes first.

Based on the comparisons, Averett concluded that women specifically who have difficulty keeping up with maintenance bills, such as rent, electricity and other utilities, are more likely to be obese. Men who face similar financial troubles were less likely to be obese. When the researchers accounted for other factors such as income and marital status, they found that the relationship between obesity and financial woes was still present. Averett concluded that household bills cause obesity despite not finding a clear cause-and-effect relationship.

Averett's study also explained why the weight difference between genders might exist. Men who generally have lower income and would have a harder time paying bills are more likely to be holding a manual labor job that burns calories. Women, on the other hand, do not often have jobs where intense physical labor is required. Furthermore, the researchers stated that women are more likely than men to use food stamps. The researchers even cited previous studies that suggested that women are not as financially literate as men are, which means that they are at a greater risk of having money issues.

The researchers reported that they did not find the same relationship with obesity and credit card debt. The researchers reasoned that a large bill might be less stressful in comparison to living without electricity. Many critics are not sold on the study's findings and the authors' reasoning since the study did not take into account young children. A lot more women under the age of 28 are single mothers who have to work and feed their children. There are not as many single fathers under 28 who deal with the same pressures.

The findings were published in Economics and Human Biology.

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