This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

You're Fat and In Debt for the Same Reason

By Rick Kahler

NEW YORK (AdviceIQ) -- Over the years I've noticed a common trait among people with money problems: Many of those people are also overweight. Is there a relationship between overspending and overeating?

I recently read about a 2009 study by Dr. Eva Munster at the University of Mainz in Germany. Those deep in consumer debt are 2.5 times more likely to be overweight than those who have no debt, Munster found. Possible links include overeating because of the stress of debt, difficulty buying healthful food on a limited income or inability to delay gratification in spending and eating.

Based on my work with those in financial trouble, however, I suspect a deeper cause. Just as chronic money problems aren't about money, chronic weight problems probably aren't about food.

For supporting evidence, I went to an expert: my daughter, London, who recently took a graduate course in medicine. I asked her about the medical link between overspending and overeating. She explained that sugar is addictive and stimulates the same part of the brain as narcotics, producing a euphoric response that, when it subsides, calls for more of the substance.

She wondered whether people addicted to sugar overspend on junk food or also on diets, fitness centers and the higher medical costs associated with being overweight. I pointed out that I spend a lot on healthy food that costs more than junk food. I also spend money on a fitness center and on medical costs to repair the damage to my body after compulsively working out.

She pondered for a moment. "Oh, I think I got it. I'll bet for some people spending money lights up the same part of the brain as sugar and narcotics?"

Bingo. The key to changing any addictive behavior -- overeating, drinking, using drugs or overspending -- involves more than eliminating the substance or the activity. Something else pops up to take its place, which is why many who stop drinking then gain weight or plunge into serious money problems. The brain just substitutes one dopamine producer for another.

The answer is a sort of "rewiring" of the brain to create new neuropathways that do not require the harmful substance or activity to produce the same euphoric event. The latest research on the brain tells us this rewiring is completely doable.

I've seen that to change entrenched and damaging money behaviors permanently takes more than teaching someone thoroughly about money or budgeting. Obesity experts say that losing weight permanently rarely requires learning more about nutrition or researching to find the right diet. Such life changes require looking into the past and deep into oneself. This recovery takes time, effort and money. It's a path not many are willing to follow.

But if underlying causes for overeating and overspending are the same, the good news is that doing the work to recover from one likely speeds the process of recovery from the other. It's a sort of two-for-the-price-of-one sale. For long-term financial, physical and emotional well-being, it seems like a bargain.

-- By Rick Kahler, CFP, president of Kahler Financial Group in in Rapid City, S.D.

AdviceIQ is a network of financial advisors that writes insightful articles for the public about investing and wealth management. All articles are edited by AdviceIQ's editor in chief, Larry Light. AdviceIQ certifies that all its advisors have no regulatory infractions.

To subscribe to AdviceIQ's RSS feed for personal finance articles written by financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors, click here.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

AdviceIQ is a network of financial advisors that writes insightful articles for the public about investing and wealth management. All articles are edited by AdviceIQ's editor in chief, Larry Light. AdviceIQ certifies that all its advisors have no regulatory infractions.

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,960.57 -123.23 -0.72%
S&P 500 1,978.34 -9.64 -0.48%
NASDAQ 4,449.5640 -22.5440 -0.50%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs