You CAN be Fat and Happy

Savana Spitz, HB, Mr. Aparicio, Summer School PM. The majority of the world believes that if someone is fat then they have a depressing life, but what if I told you that in fact it is possible to be fat and happy? Obesity is a real-world problem, leading to early death and medical bills, but few have done research on if the people were actually content with their life, regardless of how much they owed to the hospital. Obesity has been proven to be a “traditional disease,” affecting the majority of the people the obese are around on a daily basis.1 But what kind of externality is being fat and how does someone’s view of societal body figures shift because of this externality?

As stated by Wheelan, a positive externality is when the social benefits outweigh the personal benefits of someone and a negative externality is when a cost is imposed on a third party.2 Therefore, if being obese has a negative externality then getting fat harms other people and if it’s a positive externality then getting fat benefits others.3 Many could say that being fat has benefits involving not having to exercise and eating all the time, resulting in a release of dopamine to the brain. On the flip side, there are health risks and the personal displeasure of not meeting body type standards.

Dr . Nicholas A. Cristakis, a researcher on obesity externality, believes that obesity can have positive externalities because someone’s view of what the societal norm is for body image can shift depending on who that person views as the society.4 “Fat’ becomes more normal to a person if they are around more people who are overweight and therefore changes their view of a societal approved body type. This goes to show that friends really do affect a person mentally and physically. When becoming obese, there has to be a positive benefit to improve the person’s overall utility, otherwise it is pointless. People want to gain the laziness of not having to work out and eat whatever they want which to them would gain them utility. Choosing to be fat has to entail becoming a better overall person and a new life style that brings more benefits. A person’s new body affects other non-fat people and pulls them in to a new lifestyle of living a content life.

No matter how hard society tries, people’s decisions will always affect others. In “Naked Economics”, Charles Wheelan talks about how he bought an SUV and ditched his Honda for the sake of safety; other drivers could now be affected because they are in risk of being hurt in a wreck.5 When people decide to become obese the people around them start to form habits similar to the obese person. This has positive and negative externalities depending upon how a person views the situation, but what is proven is that if someone is living a happy lifestyle because they are obese it will affect everyone else who pursues that lifestyle. Being happy and fat is a real lifestyle that can be pursued; a person’s shift on societal norms, what maximizes their total utility, and becoming lazy and eating whatever you want, creating a positive or negative externality, will form the lifestyle of being fat and happy.

[1] “A positive externality of obesity.” The Economist. July 26, 2007. Accessed June 19, 2017. http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2007/07/a_positive_externality_of_obes.

[2] Charles J. Wheelan and Burton G. Malkiel, Naked economics: undressing the dismal science (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012), 57,58.

[3] “A positive externality of obesity.” The Economist. July 26, 2007. Accessed June 19, 2017. http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2007/07/a_positive_externality_of_obes.

[4] Ibid.,

[5] Charles J. Wheelan and Burton G. Malkiel, Naked economics: undressing the dismal science (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012), 54.

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