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Weight and Wealth

January 19th, 2006 at 05:36 am

I came across a documentary the other day, being played on one of our public tv stations. It was called When Ends Don't Meet, and followed several families who'd be called the working poor--except for one couple where the husband wanted to work but couldn't, or his cancer-striken wife would lose her Medicaid coverage.

One thing that struck me was how most of the adults in the families were overweight. I can think of one mother who looked in good shape, and two husbands who only had small bellies. The rest seemed to be really obese. It struck me as odd, because when I think of poverty the picture in my mind is of starving, skinny folks during the Great Depression or in third world countries.

Since I've always had both weight and money management difficulties myself, it got me thinking about about common denominators. These folks didn't appear to be particularly lazy or inactive. If you are on your feet every day waitressing, and are raising 5 or 6 kids, you probably get a good workout. Wink Eating junky, fattening foods because they are filling and cheaper than healthier ones? Also eating them for pleasure because it's cheaper than other forms of recreation? Actual changes in your metabolism because of being under stress for long periods of time? A slight brain dysfunction where you have trouble keeping track of income and outgo, in terms of calories as well as money? Or just being so consumed by trying to make ends meet that you just don't pay attention to diet and exercise?

I know in my case I do seem to gain weight when we've had a long stretch of money worries, but I still can't say for sure why that is.

It got me curious enough to go ahead and order a book on Amazon that I've had on my wishlist a long time. It's called The Weight and Wealth Factors, by Angie Hollerich. For $1.12 plus shipping, using a discounted gift certificate, I figured I'd go for it. If I get any great insights from it, I'll report back. In the meantime, would be curious if anybody else has thoughts on the subject.

5 Responses to “Weight and Wealth”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I'd be very interested to hear about the book once you've read it. I would have thought that being highly stressed would raise your metabolism rather than slow it but I guess if you've lived with the stress long enough your body becomes accustomed to it. Was there a sense of apathy to the people in the doco? That could probably be a cause of the weight. If they had a "why bother" attitude or sense of hopelessness to their predicament then they would probably be eating cheap junky comfort foods which wouldn't encourage one to go out and walk around the block, I guess. Men have a naturally higher metabolism because they have a higher muscle mass (which uses more energy than fat mass) than women. Maybe that's why the blokes weren't as fat. JMHO, though.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I've read studies that indicate when the body is stressed for long periods of time, it releases higher levels of coritsal, and the body goes into "fight or flight" mode. The end result is weight gain around the mid-section, the most unhealthy sort of fat. This, with the other effects of too much stress, can then lead to a whole series of other health problems, i.e. high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. All of which cost more money to treat.

    Very interesting correlation. I'd like to read the book too.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I wonder about that myself. esmeralda has a good point - and there is another twist. One of the ways that the body can reset itself (a fight or flight response can create more stress, which causes more fight or flight - a vicious circle) is by high-calorie food. So there is a reason for comfort food - self medication. Lots of other possibilities - alcohol is very, very high in calories, eating is a cheap hobby, fresh vegetables perceived as expensive.

    Another thought that I've noticed -trying to do both- is that managing money and managing weight use the same skills. You've managing an equilibrium - you got to be detail oriented, you can't let your emotions get in the way, you need a plan and patience because you are dealing with a thousand small tweaks. Ultimately to save money you have to take in more money than you spend; to manage weight you have to take in fewer calories than what you spend.

  4. rob62521 Says:

    You also might want to do some reading by a lady named Ruby Payne. She is the author of a book called "The Frameworks of Poverty." She says that many folks in poverty or working poor have health problems or are obese because starchy foods are far cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, many people in this situation live for now, which means buying fast food or convenience foods.The book "Nickel and Dimed" also points out that the working poor cannot afford the most nutritious foods. I also will be interested in your findings.

  5. Angie Hollerich Says:

    As the author of The Weight and Wealth Factors, I would be interested in what you thought of the book? I feel today as I felt in 2000 when I wrote The Weight and Wealth Factors, if you can manage your money you can manage your weight.

    I have also written the "Simple Money Series" Money Made Simple, easy answers to tough money questions, Money Made Simpler, solutions to the ten most common money mistakes and out in June 2006 Money Made Simplest, the simple truth about money myths. These books make managing your money easier and less intimidating.

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