Whether Americans consider themselves “thriving” seems to depend at least in part on their weight, eating habits and exercise, according to a new report.
Gallup-Healthways researchers found that the percentage of Americans who consider themselves “thriving” — meaning their social well-being is strong, consistent and progressing — is lower for people who are obese (36.5 percent), compared with people who are overweight and normal weight (41.6 percent and 43 percent, respectively). Underweight people were also less likely to be “thriving,” at 39.3 percent.
“Thriving” adults also tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, with 66.4 percent of adults who eat fruits and vegetables four to seven days a week reporting being “thriving,” compared with just 32.5 percent of adults who reported the same but eat fruits and vegetables zero to three days a week.
A similar pattern exists for exercise: 57.9 percent of adults who exercise at least half an hour for three to seven days a week say that they’re “thriving,” compared with 41.5 percent of adults who exercise at least a half hour for zero to two days a week.
The findings are based on phone interviews conducted from January to June this year, involving 84,890 adults in the U.S. Overall, 41 percent of Americans said that they are “thriving.” Forty-three percent consider themselves “struggling” (meaning their social well-being is moderate or inconsistent) and 16 percent say that they are “suffering” (meaning their social well-being is low or at high risk).
Researchers noted that even though the report shows an association between perceptions of “thriving” and weight, they do not know the direction of the relationship; in other words, it’s unknown whether social relationships are less common among people who are obese, or whether being obese makes it difficult to form strong social relationships.