Monday, December 15, 2008

Fat and happy

Males, N = 410

Females, N = 439

Males, N = 430

Females, N = 485


The Steveosphere has been chatting about fat, so I thought I'd chime in. There are two ideas I wanted to test: 1) that fatter people are happier; and 2) that they're lazier.

General Social Survey interviewers looked over respondents and recorded whether they thought they were below average, average, above average, or considerably above average weight. I omitted non-whites since their numbers were too small.

The top two graphs show how happiness varies with weight. Among men, the skinny ones are not as happy. Men of average weight are happiest, but the fatties are pretty close.

Among women, the trend is clearer: the fatter, the happier.

Now, on the laziness question, I picked work status for people from the age of 30-55. (Next time, I might look at other indicators).

Looking at the third graph, the skinny guys are least likely to be working full-time; the really fat dudes are second.

Once again, weight is more important for women. As the rotundness increases, so do the hours at work. Notice how the skinnies have the most homemakers. They probably used their thinness to bag them a productive husband. (Lots of thin part-timers too).

So, the data here do not support the idea that fat people are lazy and miserable. Perhaps happy people worry less about their weight. The world is a good place whether I'm narrow or wide.

What's up with thin men? Not happy because they're too slight--a feminine quality? More neurotic?

I imagine that more fat women need to work because they don't have a man to support them, or because they must bring more income to the marriage bargain to compensate for being unattractive. Or they're just lower-income types and need the money more.

7 comments:

Peter said...

One thing that pops right out is the big increase in the temporarily not working (green) category among the most overweight men. It might be attributable to health-related issues. There's no comparable increase for women, which makes sense as the adverse health consequences of obesity are worse for men than for women.

Speedwell said...

Even fat geeky chicks like me wouldn't touch morons like you with a ten-foot pole. Believe it or not, we have more than enough intelligence, imagination, and self-esteem to take one look at people like you, who think every woman measures her worth according to her man-catchiness, and kick them straight to the curb.

Ron Guhname said...

Has anyone noticed how fat chicks are loud?

Who said anything about women basing their self-esteem on man-catchiness? You've smuggled your own issue into the topic.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious how age fits into all this. I would suspect that some of the differences in working habits could be attributed to older people being more likely to be established in careers. Older people also have slower metabolisms and have had more life over which to build up excess weight (not to mention the fact that things such as a well-paying job and family responsibilities, things likely to bring happiness, take up time that could otherwise be spent exercising and preparing healthier foods).

Also, any idea what the "other" category under work status might include?

agnostic said...

The "considerably above average," whites-only group has only 28 people, 12 male and 16 female.

Maybe the diffs are big enough that a statistical test would give a significant result, but I dunno.

And the conclusions really hinge on what the lardasses are like. The male trend looks like it could do all three things: continue upward, level off, or bend back down. Ditto for females.

Hard to tell what's going on without a good feel for the humungo group.

agnostic said...

Even fat geeky chicks like me wouldn't touch morons like you with a ten-foot pole.

Fat and geeky! Our pride is doubly wounded -- we'll have to eat twice as many corndogs tonight to make ourselves feel better.

Peter said...

Once again, weight is more important for women. As the rotundness increases, so do the hours at work. Notice how the skinnies have the most homemakers. They probably used their thinness to bag them a productive husband. (Lots of thin part-timers too).

On the other hand, having children is one of the leading causes of weight gain in women. This may especially be true for middle-aged women, who make up a large percentage of those in the survey (30-55). It would therefore seem logical that the thinner women would be less likely to have children than other women and therefore less likely to be housewives.