Tightening your belt can expand your waistline! That’s according to a study from scientists at the University of Mainz in Germany.

They wanted to see if there was a relationship between a person’s bank account and their weight. So, they reviewed the health and financial records of almost 9,000 people. And it turned out that those who owed a lot of money were two-and-a-half times more likely to be overweight or obese than those whose debts were under control.

The researchers think there are 3 reasons:

First: Healthy food costs more. A study done by The American Dietetic Association shows that eating the 9 recommended servings of fruits and vegetables a day can use up to half of a family’s food budget. So, when people are tightening their financial belts, they skip the healthy stuff.

Also: Less expensive foods have more calories, especially from sugar and fat.

Finally: Owing money makes us more anxious and less social. People tend to stay home when money is tight, and that means less physical activity. Money problems make us more likely to escape by vegging in front of the TV and indulging in comfort foods like pizza and ice cream. So, we pack on the pounds.

The good news is that you can eat well on a budget. It just takes some smart shopping. Avoid the boxed and canned cheap stuff, and go for the items you can cook yourself. Dollar stores have fruits, veggies, pastas, olive oil, eggs, bagged salads and much more.