The next nine weeks
Success has a positive relationship with health, attractiveness and happiness. To understand why, first I wanted an explanation for how the wealthy could be perceived as more attractive despite going against what the average person perceives as attractive while also maintaining health.
I want to understand the health inequalities between socioeconomic classes, and compare habits with what we’ve learned about happiness to offer practical tips so you can make adjustments for a better chance at happiness (and therefore success).
Over the next nine weeks we’ll be looking at class differences in the areas of:
Week one: diet
Week two: exercise
Week three: sleep
Week four: drug use
Week five: relationship habits
Week six: mental health
Week seven: computer literacy
Week eight: medical access (regular check-ups, time waiting for surgery)
Week nine: supplementation
So let’s get into week one - diet.
The next four weeks we’re going to be looking at health habits between social classes.
Why? Well recently we’ve been exploring the relationship between success and happiness.
Last week we explored “Are thin people more successful?” which focused on the perceptions of society versus what is actually healthy.
Wealthier people tend to have positive associations with attractiveness and health, yet their BMI’s state they are overweight, which is linked to obesity and linked to numerous health conditions. It’s clear there is another factor not being accounted for.
Why are the wealthy healthier at the same body weight?
Body composition is much more important than body weight when examining human health. A study from University College London found that lower-income children had higher body fat percentages than rich children.
As time goes on, you can imagine how this problem compounds and becomes worse. At seven, the body fat percent difference was 3 percent, but by the age of 17, the boys with lower income backgrounds jumped to an average of 23 percent higher.
Body fat takes up more space pound for pound than lean mass, making people appear more attractive at higher body weights. It made me wonder how this difference in lean mass was achieved, and I began to look into the diets and exercise habits of wealthy people. This week we’re looking at the diets and exercise habits of successful people over the next two weeks. What I found isn't a blueprint for how to eat, but the studies I found on diet quality, fast food consumption and meat habits between classes offer a new perspective and two tips you can try.
What do wealthier people eat?
Most of us have been exposed to people in LA on diets like the vegan diet, the keto diet or the chicken broccoli and rice diet. What’s the truth? Harvard business review found in a recent study. that 51 percent of the wealthiest people in the world eat a low-carb diet with 20g of net carbs and intermittent fast until 2 pm every day.
I’m joking. I didn’t even link anything there. Please make sure you stay vigilant about what you read online. Especially from me on this subject. I don’t have a degree in nutrition, and from what I’ve learned from people who do, the best diet for each person is highly individual based on environmental factors and genetics.
I always do my best to cite high-quality sources, but please do your own research too. Ok, now that my disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get to the answers I found.
What is the difference in diet quality?
In a 2020 study from the University of Utah mentioned before, in areas with low socioeconomic status, the researchers found a decrease in the quality of meat consumed, with corn-fed animal proteins being more popular.
An Italian study observing 19,000 men and women found rich people also ate a lot more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Despite the diets that gain media attention, most rich people aren’t vegan, keto or restrictive in general. Most rich people eat healthy and balanced diets.
How much meat do wealthy people eat?
We’ve established that most wealthy people aren’t vegan, but how much meat do they eat? People from wealthier countries tend to eat more meat than those from less wealthy countries, and as less wealthy countries gain wealth, meat consumption rises rapidly, but does this mean wealthier people eat more meat than less wealthy people? Not necessarily.
The same 2020 study led by a team at the University of Utah examined proteins in discarded hair found in rubbish bins across 20 US states. They used these samples to determine what people ate by looking at proteins in hair samples. Their findings showed animal proteins accounted for 57 percent of diets on average. In areas with low socioeconomic status, meat accounted for as much as 75 per cent.
Keep in mind what we learned before about wealthy people eating better meat along with a lot of other foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This study looked at meat consumption in proportion to an overall diet. It was unclear in this study whether the proportion was in relation to calories or volume, but what the outcomes mean is that two people could eat one chicken breast but have varying percentages based on what else they ate. It’s not clear how much meat wealthy people eat, but what is clear is they’re definitely not eating only meat, but are eating a lot of other foods in addition to meat.
Do wealthy people avoid fast food?
Despite what we just learned about diet quality, people actually eat more fast food as income levels rise in the USA. About 32 percent of people who earn less than 130 per cent of the federal poverty line ate fast food daily compared to 42 percent of people above 350 percent were daily consumers. Poor people are less likely to eat fast food and eat it less too. The explanation given for rich people consuming fast food more frequently is because rich people tend to be time sensitive in the workday and are more likely to grab something quickly for energy.
Wealthy people tend to eat more filling food naturally because of the higher quality and budget. My guess is they need energy at lunch, but will likely not be super hungry. The choice they make every day is likely a Big Mac (493 calories) or something similar. So wealthy people can indulge in fast food and eat less without even trying.
Let’s compare this with a treat meal people with lower incomes likely go for when treating themselves to fast food. First of all, because it’s a treat, they’re more likely to go all out. If we start with that same Big Mac (493 calories) and add fries (337 calories), a McFlurry (360 calories) and a soda (170 calories). That’s a total of 1,360 calories of less-filling higher-calorie foods with fewer nutrients in one meal on top of a diet already filled with less-filling, higher-calorie foods with fewer nutrients.
What could you try eating?
The truth is most of us aren't making "mistakes" with how we eat. Humans are meant to run on food, but what that food consists of varies dramatically in quality and availability by social class. From what I've read, most wealthy people get in better nutrition without even trying.
My point here is not that you are powerless. You might be thinking “great, rich people have a lot of choice and access to good food which in turn makes them healthier and happier without trying, how does that help me? I can't afford that.” You'd be valid in your concerns, and I don't have a clear answer for you, but health is one of nine factors that are associated with happiness, and although important, diet is only a part of what makes someone healthy, and while good choices may be harder for some people than others, we can all strive for better.
Two easy takeaways you can try from what we learned from diet today and happiness from other posts: are:
Make food decisions in line with what will make you happy. This means food that will help you to achieve fulfilling work goals (short-on-time fast food lunches) or making food decisions in line with your religion or social life (and eat less foods that don't).
Make the best choices you can (eggs, whole grains, legumes, fruit and veg) and eat a variety of foods (varied diets are associated with quality). CDC healthy on a budget guide here
I hope after reading this, you've gotten different perspective, and an explanation for how the choices we make every day are impacted by our environment and the resources we have easily accessible.
Enjoyed this post?
Thanks for reading. Hope you learned something new you can use to get you closer to happiness. Next week we’ll be exploring the exercise routines of successful people.
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