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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Obese people not jolly, says research
Obese man
Happiness isn't more likely for obese patients
The idea that overweight people are somehow more likely to be extrovert optimists has been quashed by psychological research.

In fact, say experts from the University of Texas Health Center at Houston, they are just as likely to be miserable as anyone else.

The researchers looked at 1,739 residents of Alameda County in California over the age of 50, looking for links between their body mass and mental health.


In sum, the obese were not more jolly

Dr Robert Roberts, University of Texas Medical Center
They examined measures of overall happiness, relationship satisfaction, "feeling loved", depression and optimism.

Problems which might influence the findings, such as stress-inducing life events, chronic medical conditions and frequency of exercise, were factored out.

The results were printed in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

The team found no apparent link between obesity and psychological differences, either positive or negative.

Growing issue

Obesity is a growing problem in the US - one third of adults is thought to be overweight or obese.

It is linked to a number of health problems, including various types of cancer, heart disease and stroke.

The research team also looked at all other studies carried out on the psychology of obesity - and found mixed results.

Some studies said it had a negative effect on mental health, whereas roughly the same number said precisely the opposite.

'No link'

Dr Robert Roberts, who led the research, said: "There was no observed association between obesity and psychological dysfunction.

"In no case did we observe better mental health among the obese.

"In sum, the obese were not more jolly."

He did suggest that more research was needed into the specific effects of diet into depression.

He also suggested that it was possible that people with long-term psychological or psychiatric problems might become obese as a result.

See also:

18 Jun 98 | Health
05 Jan 01 | Health
12 Dec 01 | Health influences
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