Financial debt leads to poor health outcomes

By Sheryl Kay • Published: November 4th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Being in debt is a growing concern for college-aged adults, especially upon graduation when those student loan payments kick in at the same time as securing a new apartment, a revised wardrobe for work, and maybe even a set of wheels.

And, as if that all wasn’t enough, the numbers now show that same debt is causing measurable health problems among the twenty-something crowd. This is especially problematic given that about 20 million young adults are registered as college students each year in America, and three-fourths of them secure loans each year to be paid back upon graduation or withdrawal from school. As of now, about 35 million people in the U.S. have outstanding loans as part of their college bills.

A team of researchers who just published their findings in the journal Social Science and Medicine say owing money is actually making us sick. It is the first such study to look at the physical effects from debt rather than the psychological issues associated with financial liability.

Analyzing data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the investigators zeroed in on the records of 8,400 young adults, ages 24 to 32, specifically recording their debt status and comparing that to the associated health record of each person.

The evaluation showed that those who had higher financial obligations due to loans also had significantly elevated perceived stress and depression, a worse self-reported general physical condition, and a higher diastolic blood pressure then average. This can lead to hypertension and an increased risk of stroke.

Given the rising costs of a college education, it’s not likely the debt issue will be resolved any time soon, so researchers suggest paying added attention to the physical wellbeing of those burdened by heavy financial obligations.

Education shouldn’t be bad for your health.