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A study of more than 20,000 employees offers insight into how weight affects paychecks. Led by Timothy Judge, PhD, at the University of Florida, the study found that women who weighed 25 pounds less than the median weight of their coworkers earned an average of $15,572 more per year than their average-weight peers. Women who weighed 25 pounds more than average earned $13,847 less.

For men, the trends seem to run in reverse, at least up to the point of obesity: Very thin men earn an average of $8,437 less than their average-weight peers. Men who weighed more than their average-weight colleagues earned more money as they gained more weight, with the highest pay going to those who weighed 207 pounds. But when a man’s weight crossed over to obesity, pay began to decrease. (For more on weight bias, read “Fit for Success” in the March 2006 archives.)

While a recent Duke University study suggests that obesity can significantly affect productivity, the researchers of the University of Florida study note that it’s unlikely most weight-related pay discrepancies correlate with merit. They hope that making their findings public will help employers become more aware of unfair weight bias in the workplace and take steps to correct the trend.

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