If you are overweight, you are not necessarily destined to be sad, says a new study from the University of Colorado–Boulder. The paper comes out today in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior,
and it tracks the three-way relationship between obesity, life
satisfaction, and where you live. It finds, perhaps unsurprisingly, that
obese men and women who live in U.S. counties with high levels of
obesity are much happier than obese men and women who live in slenderer
areas. Nor do people of “normal weight” enjoy much of an affective
advantage in neighborhoods with more flesh per capita. “This illustrates
the importance of looking like the people around you when it comes to
satisfaction with life,” explains co-author Philip Pendergast. Truer
words were never spoken, even by Leon Festinger, who first pioneered social comparison theory in 1954.
Researchers drew on a sample of 1.3 million adults across the
country. The participants rated their happiness levels, which were then
splayed across the obeso-meter by county. Might zaftig men and women in
zaftig neighborhoods escape some of the stigma and unhappiness we assume
comes with their body size? Might it be true that fatness is not an
ineluctable prescription for suffering? Yep. “Where obesity is more
common, there is less difference among obese, severely obese, and
non-obese individuals’ life satisfaction,” the researchers write, “but
where obesity is less common, the difference in life satisfaction
between the obese (including the severely obese) and non-obese is
greater. In that light, obesity in and of itself does not appear to be
the main reason obese individuals tend to be less satisfied with their
lives than their non-obese peers. Instead, it appears to be society’s
response to or stigmatization of those that are different from what is
seen as ‘normal’ that drives this relationship.”
To translate this finding into layperson-speak: The fat cells are not
releasing George Saunders-esque depression chemicals into your
bloodstream. If you are both heavyset and heavyhearted, it is more
likely due to your neighbors being jerks (possibly because their blood
sugar is low from living off celery like baleful rabbits). Or it is due
to you comparing yourself to the Joneses and feeling inadequate. In
fact, before controlling for location, severely obese men were 29
percent sadder than their normal weight counterparts, and severely obese
women were 43 percent sadder. But when researchers moved from a county
in the fifth percentile for obesity to one in the 95th percentile, that gap diminished by 79 percent for men and 60 percent for women.
Note the gender differential—women still pay a higher psychological
price for extra poundage than men. “Think about the advertising we see
on television or in magazines—we are bombarded by images of thin women,
and we are told that is the ideal,” says Pendergast, by way of
unnecessary explanation. But the blade cuts both ways: As obesity rates
rise, the emotional cost of fatness shrinks, which could create an
unhealthy cycle if it reduces motivation to treat your body well.
Joined: Jan 04 2014
Location: The 6
Posted: May 29 2014 at 3:48pm
I don't know about that but I've gotten some negativity from people about me working out and eating healthier. Some people try to convince me that I will just end up flabby and sick like them
anyways this article is BS and sounds like a person who believes in thin privilege wrote it...obese men are less happier because they aint getting the drawls like a man in shape is..i agree with Wonderland about big black women being cool with it....they know brothas will still fucc with them and call them "thick"
Joined: Aug 01 2006
Location: United States
Posted: May 29 2014 at 3:57pm
As someone who was overweight with NO self esteem issues....i can say this article is false.
As someone who is now normal weight....this quote does ring true: “This illustrates the importance of looking like the people around you when it comes to satisfaction with life,”
At work...i put myself together, EVERYDAY. I don't own a pair a jeans, I don't wear pants except for the gym. So in regards to bolded quote above...just like my office environment is to dress like slobs and they want me to conform....people who are overweight don't necessarily want to be around someone who is really into fitness.
People who fall into category usually have very low self esteem.
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