Spring is here, and that means that beach season is just around the corner. As men and women ponder how they’ll be looking in a bathing suit this year (and perhaps panic and start a diet or new fitness regime when they answer that question), we pondered something ourselves: “Are people who diet any more or less happy than those who don’t?”
To answer that question, we’re releasing a new report called “Worth the Weight: How happiness corresponds with dieting.“ You can read the full text here.
The punchline? The key to happiness is to either give a big ol’ hug to yourself (whether that self be skinny, fat, or somewhere in between)..or else get off your duff and actually do something about it. But if you feel guilty about your weight without taking any action, you’re likely to be pretty unhappy about many other aspects of your life.
We started by examining a Hunch question which asked: “Are you on a diet right now?” Here’s how the results played out among more than 13,000 Hunch users. (We’ve added descriptors for each group in quotes).
Among the report’s findings:
- Dieters are generally eating healthfully and tend to be adventurous eaters. Even though many are carrying some extra weight, they tend to exercise consistently and are in reasonably good physical shape. Their eating habits tend to be more about choosing healthy options instead of self-deprivation. Dieters are also more likely to be the type of people who “take charge of situations” and are quite happy with who they are.
- Dieters and Non-Dieters are equally happy with their lives. But the Non-Dieters in our study are less inclined to enjoy gourmet dining and adventurous foods than dieters are. They are equally likely to be as optimistic as dieters are. But compared to dieters, he non-dieting “I’m comfortable with who I am” folks tend to be less interested in fashion and celebrities. Their laid-back attitude towards dieting also reflects their general outlook; they are the least likely group in our study to describe themselves as “high maintenance.”
- Guilty Procrastinators are less healthy and less active than the other groups, and are generally less happy in their lives. They acknowledge that they get sick more than the average person and have resigned themselves to an expanding waist line in the next few years. They are less likely to consider themselves a success, and feel less in control of their lives than the other groups do.
Note though that this report isn’t just about recognizing that heavier people can obviously be perfectly happy. Our data also debunks another stereotypical perception of the opposite point of view: that someone who is dieting must dislike themselves, dislike the way they look, or be prone to unhealthy eating habits. We found just the opposite.
The media has picked up on this lately. The Huffington Post recently ran a scathing review by Laura Beck of the new TV show ‘Kirstie Alley’s Big Life‘. Laura notes: “I know A&E is new to the reality genre but we’ve reached a saturation point with “get skinny, fatty” shows and there is nothing left to say. 2002 called, and it wants its show back.” Later she adds: “Kirstie, show the world that you can be fat and healthy. That you can be fat and happy.”