Researchers at the University of Otago have found that people who don't take care of their money are unlikely to take care of their health.
In the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, scientists looked at 1000 people born in the city in 1972 and 1973 and discovered the sort of attributes that can lead to a low credit rating can also contribute to poor cardiovascular health.
These attributes, which included self-control and the ability to plan ahead, developed early in life and were apparent in some children before the age of 10. Credit scores were a useful proxy for a person's reliability, steadfastness and health, they said.
The study's director, Richie Poulton, said other countries had already worked out how to use this for commercial advantage.
"In America, they've cottoned on to this some time ago and these types of credit ratings have been used in all sorts of interesting ways people are probably not aware of.
"For example, employers use them to screen potential employees. Health insurers use them to screen their potential clients in terms of risk stratification."
Professor Poulton said New Zealand has much tighter regulations.