"Did the individuals gain weight when they lost [their] income [or] job over indebtedness?" he asked. "Or were they already obese, overweight before their economic problems?"
Dr. Tim Byers of the University of Colorado in Denver noted that the results difficult to interpret, limiting the ability to extrapolate to the U.S.
"The new wrinkle here of this measure of indebtedness is hard for me to assess," said Byers. "I am not sure what this really means as a social factor in Germany, as measured. I therefore do not think this study adds valuable new information, especially for those of us in the U.S."
In contrast, New York physician Dr. Emanuela Taioli said study's methods were credible – and that the implications of indebtedness to diet were particularly interesting.
"This result is even more applicable to the U.S., where unhealthy food is currently much cheaper and more affordable than healthty food, and so is water in comparison to sugary drinks," said Taioli of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. "This will have a large impact on the current U.S. obesity problem, now that the proportion of people with debts is increasing."
This article was produced in collaboration with ABC News.