Obesity Linked to Long-Term Unemployment in U.S.

Americans who have been out of work for a year or more are much more likely to be obese than those unemployed for a shorter time. The obesity rate rises from 22.8% among those unemployed for two weeks or less to 32.7% among those unemployed for 52 weeks or more.

Obesity Rate in U.S., by Weeks Unemployed

Gallup tracks U.S. obesity levels daily using Americans’ self-reported height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI) scores as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Individuals with BMI scores of 30 or higher are considered obese. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index also tracks the percentages of Americans who report that they have ever been diagnosed with various health conditions related to obesity, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

These results are based on nearly 5,000 interviews throughout 2013 with the long-term unemployed (defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as being unemployed for 27 weeks or more) and more than 13,000 interviews with the short-term unemployed (those out of work for less than 27 weeks).