Economy & health

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Economy & health

  1. 1. Your Bottom Line and YourWaistlineroshankumar.2007@rediffmail.com
  2. 2. How are you feeling? The answer may depend not juston your physical health but also your financial health.The wealthy have always lived longer than the poor,and, according to a 2008 Congressional Budget Officestudy, that gap has actually widened in the past fewdecades. Possible reasons include the fact that the richget better health care and less dangerous jobs. Anotherkey reason, research suggests, may be obesity.Its not just that being poorer means you have access tolower-quality food. Its that economic stress seems toactually make people hungry.From the standpoint of evolution, this makes somesense, says Trenton Smith, an economics professor atthe University of Otago in New Zealand. Fear ofstarvation in mice triggers biological reactions that spurthem to overeat. The same occurs in humans, even ifpeople dont actually believe theyre going to starve. "Ithappens at a much deeper level than that," Smith says.Worries about money change brain chemistry, and, "asa result, you just feel hungry." Smith showed how spikesroshankumar.2007@rediffmail.com
  3. 3. in local unemployment rates caused increases in obesity-- every 1 percent drop in annual income resulted in aweight increase of about 5.5 pounds.His results echo other studies: An Oxford Universitystudy last year found the availability of fast food and pre-processed food had only half the impact on obesity thateconomic insecurity did. The study said this explainswhy there are more obese people in more capitalisticcountries with weaker social safety nets, like the UnitedStates and the United Kingdom, compared to places likeNorway and Sweden.People fighting obesity often say that stress causesthem to over-eat. Maybe, Smith says, the best treatmentshouldnt just include diets and exercise, but also someeffective career or financial planning.roshankumar.2007@rediffmail.com

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