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ODU Prof’s Study of Rise in Obesity among the Unemployed Cited by Washington Post

Photo of Qi "Harry" ZhangQi "Harry" Zhang

Old Dominion University researcher Qi "Harry" Zhang recently published a study examining the association between state and county unemployment rates and obesity during the latest United States recession.

The study, "Associations between U.S. Adult Obesity and State and County Economic Conditions in the Recession," was published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine in January. This week, Zhang's findings were referenced in a Washington Post story examining how the jobless - particularly those experiencing extended employment gaps - deal with weight gain as they search for work.

"A high unemployment rate is a proxy for many economic and socioeconomic determinants of health," Zhang told the Washington Post. "For people living in areas with high unemployment, everything is messed up. You have poverty. High crime. Low education levels. And people rely on food to comfort themselves, to make them feel better."

The result is frequently unwanted weight gain. To make matters worse, the problem doesn't end when job seekers find employment openings, because they can face discrimination in hiring due to their added weight.

The problem is "perpetual," according to comments Zhang made to the newspaper.

Zhang is an associate professor in ODU's College of Health Sciences School of Community and Environmental Health. His primary research involves socioeconomic disparities in obesity in the United States and he is currently focusing on economic mechanisms that impact obesity among low-income Americans.

To read the article in its entirety, visit the Washington Post website.

For more information on Zhang's background and research, visit his bio page on the ODU website.