Obesity Linked to Lower Social Well-Being

Obese and underweight adults in the U.S. are somewhat less likely to be “thriving” socially and are more likely to be “suffering” than those who are normal weight or are overweight, but not obese.

State of Americans' Social Well-Being by BMI Category

In fact, those who are obese are the least likely across all weight groups to be thriving socially and underweight individuals are the most likely to be suffering, underscoring the risk of being at either extreme of the weight spectrum when it comes to social well-being.

These data, collected Jan. 1-June 23, 2014 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, are based on more than 80,000 interviews, with U.S. adults, aged 18 and older. The social well-being scores are based on respondents’ answers to items about the strength of their relationship with their spouse, partner, or closest friend; positive energy gained from family and friends; making time for trips or vacations with family and friends; and having someone who encourages them to be healthy. Gallup then categorizes respondents as “thriving” (well-being that is strong, consistent, and progressing), “struggling” (well-being that is moderate or inconsistent), or “suffering” (well-being that is low and at high risk) in their social well-being.

Overall, 41% of Americans are thriving, with 43% struggling and 16% suffering in their social well-being. Gallup previously found that more Americans are thriving in social well-being than in the other four elements measured as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.