Scientists said that their most interesting finding was that, in US counties where obesity is particularly prevalent, being obese has very little negative effect on one's life satisfaction.
Study co-author Philip M. Pendergast, from University of Colorado-Boulder, said that being 'normal weight' has little benefit in counties where obesity is especially common, which shows the importance of looking like the people around you when it comes to satisfaction with life.
Pendergast said that where obesity is more common, there is less difference among obese, severely obese, and non-obese individuals' life satisfaction, but where obesity is less common, the difference in life satisfaction between the obese (including the severely obese) and non-obese is greater.
According to the researchers, before accounting for where people live, severely obese men and women have 29 percent and 43 percent lower odds, respectively, than their non-obese counterparts of reporting that they are "very satisfied" with their lives.
However, the story is very different among people in counties where obesity is common, the scientists found that among men, about 79 percent of the gap in the probability of severely obese and non-obese individuals reporting that they are "very satisfied" with their lives is eliminated if one moves from a county in the 5th percentile for obesity in the US (with an obesity rate of 24 percent) to a county in the 95th percentile (with a rate of 46 percent). In the same scenario among women, the gap is reduced by about 60 percent.
The study is published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.