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Fitness over debt may not be best choice in the long run

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In a July 2013 study from Harris Interactive, 2,021 Americans were asked if they'd rather choose between keeping their current debt and not gaining 25 pounds or being completely debt free but with 25 extra pounds. Some may be surprised that 72 percent turned down the idea of being debt free over weight gain.

One issue with the survey is it doesn't specify who had a healthy body mass index (BMI) or who was debt free to begin with. It's not just a matter of wanting to look good and be broke. If someone is in their normal weight range, why should she be okay with gaining 25 pounds?

However, according to the CDC, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35 percent) are obese.

Non-Hispanic African Americans have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity (49.5 percent) compared with Mexican Americans (40.4 percent), all Hispanics (39.1 percent) and non-Hispanic whites (34.3 percent).

Without knowing the demographics of those who took this survey, it's difficult to speculate on who could spare 25 pounds and who simply can't afford to pack on more.

At first glance it makes Americans appear to be pretty lazy about working out. To be able to start from scratch with debt, especially in this economy, would be a relief to many.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "over the 12 months ending in September 2013, hires totaled 52.7 million and separations totaled 50.8 million, yielding a net employment gain of 1.9 million."

If the surveyors are all gainfully employed and physically fit, then not wanting to gain 25 pounds makes sense.

But if some of the participants are worried about job loss with a great deal of debt, regaining a perfect credit score isn't something to pass up.

Effective weight loss programs, such as Weight Watchers, states that losing two pounds per week -- minus water weight -- is the maximum amount to lose on a healthy basis. So if someone were to use these programs or effectively diet and exercise on their own, they'd kick those 25 extra pounds off in a little over three months with money to spare.

Adults ages 18 to 34 years old were more likely to worry about their looks compared to those 55+ (36 percent vs. 28 percent) in this same study. This is also the group that may be dealing with college debt. According to CNN Money, the average college student debt is $29,400.

Again, three months of watching your diet and exercising or $29,400 for classes? Or mortgage? Or regular bills? Or even health insurance?

Wanting to look your best matters, but sometimes putting one priority above the other when both can be resolved is another, even if just by survey standards.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all her latest Chicago nutrition and fitness entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Diet and Exercise channel at the top of this page.

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