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Unhappy and Happy Obesity: A Comparative Study on the United States and China

Kazuma Sato ()
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Kazuma Sato: Takushoku University

Journal of Happiness Studies, 2021, vol. 22, issue 3, No 12, 1259-1285

Abstract: Abstract This study aims to examine the relationship between obesity and subjective well-being (SWB) using panel data from China and the United States, two countries with different perceptions of obesity. In the United States, which follows the modern Western standard of beauty, obesity is stigmatized and is expected to have a negative relationship with SWB. In contrast, the Chinese traditionally regard obesity as a sign of prosperity; hence, obesity is regarded favorably in China and is expected to have a positive association with SWB. This study attempts to explore this relationship. The results of the analysis indicate two points. First, the effect of obesity is different in China and in the United States. In China, men who are overweight or obese and women who are overweight are happier than those who are of normal weight. However, obesity is not related to happiness in the United States. Second, the effect of obesity differs according to gender. In China, whereas the positive impact of obesity is more pronounced in men than in women, a positive association between being underweight and happiness is mainly found in women in the United States.

Keywords: Obesity; Subjective well-being; Panel data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s10902-020-00272-2

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