Winning the genetic lottery may be more literal than you think. New research reveals that tall men and thin women make more money than their shorter and heavier counterparts.
Researchers at the University of Exeter looked at data from 120,000 participants between the ages of 40 and 70 who were part of the UK Biobank.
The study analyzed 400 different genetic variants previously linked to height and 70 genetic variants previously linked to body mass index. The study also accounted for participants' actual height and weight.
Researchers then compared these factors to information provided by the participants about their lives and found that men who were 3 inches shorter because of genetics made on average £1,500 ($2,130) less per year than their taller counterparts.
It wasn't just men who had their salaries docked because of genetics. The findings revealed that women who were 14 pounds heavier because of genetics made £1,500 ($2,130) less per year than their thinner counterparts.
"This is the best available evidence to indicate that your height or weight can directly influence your earnings and other socioeconomic factors throughout your life. Although we knew there was a strong association, most people assumed that shorter height and higher BMI were a consequence of poorer nutrition and chances in lif,e" said study author Tim Frayling, a professor at the University of Exeter Medical School.
"Now we have shown that there is an effect in the other direction as well - shorter height and higher BMI can actually lead to lower income and other lifestyle measures. This won't apply in every case, many shorter men and overweight women are very successful, but science must now ask why we are seeing this pattern. Is this down to factors such as low self-esteem or depression, or is it more to do with discrimination? In a world where we are obsessed with body image, are employers biased? That would be bad both for the individuals involved and for society," he added.
"The genetic analysis we used is the best possible method to test this link outside of randomly altering people's height and weight for a study, which is obviously impossible. Because we used genetics and 120,000 people, this is the strongest evidence to date that there's something about being shorter as a man and having a higher BMI as a woman that leads to being less well-off financially," said lead researcher Jessica Tyrrel.
The latest findings were published in the journal BMJ.