The size of your waistline may affect your weekly pay cheque. Larger men have been found to earn more, while larger women earn less than their trimmer counterparts.

Otago University's Christchurch Health and Development study discovered obese men with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30 earn on average $140 a week more than men with a normal BMI.

Obese women earn on average $60 less than those with normal BMI.

The study set out to find links between size, measured by BMI, and net weekly income, depression and life satisfaction, but found only women suffered from poorer outcomes through being overweight.

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Associate Professor John Horwood said the results were surprising.

"There was a small but pervasive relationship between growing body size in women and lower income, depression, low self-esteem and dissatisfaction with life."

For men, a larger circumference did not negatively affect their mental health or self-esteem.

Professor Horwood said the study was not set up to answer why such relationships existed and he could offer only conjecture.

He said one reason obese women earned less and had poorer mental health could be society's general view that obesity in women was unattractive and undesirable.

Larger men earning more could be because of the link between stature and body size, or busy schedules leading to poor eating habits.

More than 1000 participants aged 30-35 were studied.