Obese and overweight people in America today are suffering in terms of their overall emotional well-being. Perhaps this is due in part to concerns over their health, or perhaps in part of the cause of obesity. No one really knows. But, what is true, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, more than a quarter of all obese adults have been diagnosed with depression. That’s nearly twice that of normal weight adults. They also report higher levels of stress, worry, anger, and sadness.
Being a little overweight does not appear to cause the same amount of emotional distress and obesity. The emotional states of overweight individuals were quite similar to normal weight although slightly lower, suggesting a trend. Americans, who are obese, tend to have lower reported levels of happiness and enjoyment than normal weight Americans. Americans, on average, are very happy people. Normal weight Americans report a happiness level of nearly 90% and an enjoyment level of 86%. Obese Americans by contrast, report levels roughly 5% lower on each.
Why obese people have more negative emotions is unclear. It’s the classic “chicken or the egg” situation. We know that depression and stress are linked to obesity, but whether it is the root cause or an outcome is unknown.
The moral of this story is pretty clear. Being overweight is clearly hard. The data shows it. Losing weight is definitely hard – no argument. Keeping the weight off is also hard. The question is which hard do you want to tackle? There is no free lunch or magic solution. So, what’s it going to be?
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