CULTURE VULTURES STAY SKINNY
posted by James Reel
Well, here's one of those optimistic studies that's contraindicated simply by looking around you in a theater or concert-hall lobby: According to the data, people who read or go to cultural events have a lower body-mass index than all those idiots who aren't like you and me.
Hmm. What I notice in American theaters and on the street is that, whether Haves or Have-Nots, what at least a third of people across the board have is avoirdupois.
One thing to be wary of in this study is that most of the subjects were Europeans--people who spend a lot more time walking in the normal course of the day than do Americans, and who have rather different diets. Furthermore, the connection is stronger in Western Europe than Eastern Europe. Still, the study does find a distinction between the average body-mass indexes of the cultural elite and the hoi polloi.
Still, the analysis is interesting. One of the basic assumptions is that people interested in culture are well-educated. "More highly educated people tend to both read more and weigh less. Perhaps knowledge gained from schooling gives insight into the importance of proper weight for good health. In addition, mastering difficult coursework in college can help build confidence in one’s ability to reach difficult goals–including managing weight."
The author further reasons that "Perhaps the key is that groups sharing similar intellectual and cultural interests likely also share common lifestyles for health. It makes sense that members of a social network will share many ideals, and some of those ideals may relate to health and body weight."
In other words, it's that tried-and-true technique from junior high: peer pressure.
Here's the full article from the journal Sociology of Health and Illness. I suggest you read it while listening to classical music.