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The Relationship of Body Mass and Net Worth for Retirement- aged Men and Women

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Fonda, S.J., N.A. Fultz, Kristi R. Jenkins, L. Wheeler, and L.A. Wray. 2004. "The Relationship of Body Mass and Net Worth for Retirement- aged Men and Women." Research on Aging, 26(1): 153-176.

This article examines linkages between body weight and socioeconomic status (SES) among Americans at or near retirement age. The authors hypothesize that (a) body weight relates negatively to SES, (b) this relationship is greater for women than men, and (c) the relationship attenuates when health, employment, and marital status are controlled. We use the 1992 Health and Retirement Study for this examination. SES is measured as net worth. Body weight is measured as body mass index and categorized as normal weight, overweight, and obese. Results indicate that, for women, overweight and obesity relate to lower logged networth. This relationship attenuates once covariates are considered. For men, overweight and obesity relate to higher logged net worth, even when covariates are considered. The findings suggest that greater weight has different meanings for men and women in this cohort; it might be related to success for men but a sociocultural detriment for women.

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