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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Over-indebtedness as a marker of socioeconomic status and its association with obesity: a cross-sectional study

Eva Münster*, Heiko Rüger, Elke Ochsmann, Stephan Letzel and André M Toschke

BMC Public Health 2009, 9:286  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-286

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Cause or symptom...

Charles Lewis   (2009-08-27 17:55)  Private email

The link between debt and weight make sense to me, however I wonder if they are both symptoms rather than cause and effect.

A logical explanation, to me, would be that people who lack discipline, motivation and education (granted, generally through poverty) would suffer in both areas. For example, people who are too ill-disciplined to look after their finances, are probably too ill-disciplined to look after their health.

The real difference here is that people are not unhealthy because they are poor, but are both poor and unhealthy because they lack the drive and discipline to improve the quality of their lives from various aspects.

Why is this subtle difference important? Making people financially wealthier won't necessarily make people healthier. Being healthy takes discipline and knowledge. A motivated individual is more likely to strive to educate themselves to achieve their health and financial goals, as well as being more likely to implement the various changes in their life to achieve success.

Also, might the opposite be true? When people start facing tough times such as poverty, would this motivate them to improve the quality of their lives? This may just be a longer process to measure. ?

Perhaps the study was done at a key transition point. One where people became lazy, and subsequently unhealthy, due to their accumulated wealth. Now that their wealth has disappeared, they are now financially poor, unhealthy and ill-disciplined. They may have built up unhealthy habits that may take time to adjust.

The real question in my mind is: How motivated are these people to change their lifestyles, and how quickly can they do it, if at all?

Just my thoughts. I'd love to hear the researchers views on this, and possibly some additional research on the same subjects in the years to come.

Competing interests

I have no competing interests with this article.

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