Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Link between over-indebtedness and obesity identified

11.08.2009
Higher risk of over-indebted individuals becoming overweight and obese - problem could be further exacerbated by the financial crisis

Scientists at the University of Mainz have discovered a close correlation between over-indebtedness and obesity. According to the report published in the journal BMC Public Health, over-indebted Germans are more likely to be overweight or obese than the population in general.

The authors attribute this to the high cost of a healthy diet, lack of awareness of the availability of cheaper but nonetheless wholesome foods, but most particularly to the psychological and social stress experienced by over-indebted individuals. The result of this stress is that they tend to "comfort eat" and become less physically active.

Due to the design of the study - a one-off survey - it is not possible to demonstrate a link between cause and effect. Consequently, the researchers postulate that it may also be the case that obese individuals more frequently lose their jobs, and thus fall into the debit trap. After all, unemployment is the most common cause of over-indebtedness and the lack of ability to meet payments.

The research project was funded by the cluster of excellence "Corporate interde-pendence and social networks" of the Ministry for Science, Further Education Re-search and Culture of Rhineland-Palatinate. Professor Eva Münster and her team at the Institute of Occupational, Social, and Environmental Medicine evaluated data for a total of more than 9000 persons. Of the 949 over-indebted persons who completed the questionnaire sent out by the institute, 25% were obese. By way of comparison, only 11% of the 8318 subjects representing a cross-section of the general population in Germany who were questioned in a telephone survey conducted by the Robert Koch Institute in 2003 were obese.

"The current credit crunch will also impact on the health status of private households and could even exacerbate the problem", claims Professor Münster. Münster, a public health consultant, also points out that this must be considered in the light of a social problem and should not be allowed to result in stigmatisation of the persons affected.

Socio-economic status is more commonly defined in terms of income, education and occupational status. The influence of this aspect has already been extensively investigated and it has been found that it is linked with the health status of an individual. Over-indebtedness - a situation in which the level of debt is no longer manageable - is a factor that is not usually considered, although something like three to four million households in Germany alone are over-indebted. "Our survey has shown that there is an increased probability that a private individual who is over-indebted will be overweight, that is, clinically obese, irrespective of whether the other cited socio-economic factors apply."

According to the research team, indebtedness also influences factors that predis-pose to chronic illness, for example by limiting leisure activities and participation in social events. Debt can also have a negative effect on the quality of a person's diet. "Energy-dense foods such as sweets and fatty snacks are often less expen-sive compared to food with lower energy density such as fruit or vegetables." Münster also points out that over-indebtedness affects all members of a house-hold, including children. In view of the results of the survey, she proposes a low price campaign to promote the sales of healthy foodstuffs. In addition, further studies, particularly long term studies, will be necessary in order to confirm the postulated correlation between cause and effect.

The over-indebtedness of private individuals is not just a financial and legal prob-lem but, as has been shown here, it also impinges on social and health aspects. "Over-indebted persons and their families need targeted, group-specific counsel-ling and help with regard to promotion of health and prevention. This is the re-sponsibility of the public health care system, that is, the federal and state minis-tries and the communes, not forgetting the health insurers," says Münster.

Original publication:
Eva Münster, Heiko Rüger, Elke Ochsmann, Stephan Letzel, André M Toschke
Over-indebtedness as a marker of socioeconomic status and its association with obesity: a cross-sectional study

BMC Public Health, online publication August 7, 2009

Petra Giegerich | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-mainz.de/
http://www.uni-mainz.de/FB/Medizin/asu/
http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpublichealth

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Individual Receptors Caught at Work
19.10.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Rapid environmental change makes species more vulnerable to extinction
19.10.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>