A common preconception is that jobless people are more likely to be overweight then those who work.

A study in Preventative Medicine has produced an unexpected conclusion.

The study found that, in Great Britain, unemployed people are more likely to be significantly underweight than the average person.

The study’s authors say that health professionals should be alert to the heightened mortality risks that occur from being underweight.

There is a U-shaped association between body weight and unemployment.

People who are unemployed are more susceptible to being either obese or underweight than those who work.

One of the authors had worked at a food bank:

“There were people who had not eaten that day or the day before, or who had walked for two hours to get there, because paying for a return bus journey was out of the question,” she said. This set her thinking: had researchers become so concerned with obesity that they were ignoring the big picture?

Being unemployed meant you were over 5 times more likely than someone in employment, a full time parent or someone in full time education, to be underweight.

Of those who were in employment, full-time parents or in full-time education, 0.7% had a BMI below 18.5 and were therefore classed as underweight. But for those who were unemployed, the proportion shot up to almost 4%.

When factors such as education, gender and smoking were taken into account, it was revealed that the unemployed were still four times more likely to be classed as underweight than those (who were employed).

Furthermore, just under 29% of those unemployed were classed as overweight compared with almost 40% of those in work or full-time education.

There is an increased risk of ill health and mortality for those who are unemployed.

So now whether people are eating enough should be added to the list of other adverse health-related behaviours such as smoking, exercise and alcohol consumption.

To learn more about being underweight and unemployed click here: