The Wall Street Journal has a chart of the rates of obesity by classes of professions. Kevin Drum looked at the chart and noted that the category that includes economists, scientists, and psychologists have the lowest rates of 14.2%, well below the national average of 27.7% and far, far below the highest category of police officers, firefighters, and security guards which is 40.7% He is puzzled why this should be so and asks why it might be that economists are so low in weight.
I cannot answer that but suspect that income level and the nature of one’s work surely must play a role in what and how much one eats. If one finds one’s work really interesting, one does not think much about food, while in a boring job, one looks for distractions and food is the most convenient one. I keep snacks in my office drawer and it is at times when I am feeling bored or uninterested in the task at hand that I find myself reaching for them.
If we assume an average resting metabolic rate of 1,300 calories, then the brain consumes 260 of those calories just to keep things in order.
So a typical adult human brain runs on around 12 watts—a fifth of the power required by a standard 60 watt lightbulb.
Using the brain requires a lot of energy and so maybe a job that requires a lot of continuous cognitive effort burns more calories than one that requires short spurts of physical activity.
The role of income might also come into play in that if one is in a position to get stimulation from many sources such as the arts and leisure activities, the need for stimulation from food, especially food that is more tasty than nutritious, becomes less important. This point was made a long time ago by George Orwell in his book The Road to Wigan Pier in which he reported on his observations living among impoverished coal miners.
And the peculiar evil is this, that the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food. A millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits; an unemployed man doesn’t. Here the tendency of which I spoke at the end of the last chapter comes into play. When you are unemployed, which is to say when you are underfed, harassed, bored, and miserable, you don’t want to eat dull wholesome food. You want, especially something a little bit ‘tasty’. There is always some cheaply pleasant thing to tempt you. Let’s have threepennorth of chips! Run out and buy us a twopenny ice-cream! Put the kettle on and we’ll all have a nice cup of tea! That is how your mind works when you are at the P.A.C. level. White bread-and-marg and sugared tea don’t nourish you to any extent, but they are nicer (at least most people think so) than brown bread-and-dripping and cold water. Unemployment is an endless misery that has got to be constantly palliated, and especially with tea, the Englishman’s opium. A cup of tea or even an aspirin is much better as a temporary stimulant than a crust of brown bread. [My emphasis-MS]
So I don’t think Drum’s question has a simple answer.