Learning to love your love handles could be the key to a happier life, a study suggests.
A study of more than 56,000 people from around the world were asked to respond to statements on their body image. These included “I respect my body” and “I appreciate the different and unique characteristics of my body”. Their answers were then compared with an individual’s mental state.
Researchers also found that body appreciation was higher in participants who were single compared with those who were married or in a committed relationship.
The data showed rural dwellers were more likely to have a better relationship with their body than those living in cities.
Britain came third from bottom out of 65 countries surveyed with only Australia and India graded lower.
Malta scored highest, followed by Taiwan and Bangladesh, according to the study published in the journal Body Image.
Viren Swami, professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University and lead author of the study, said: “This is one of the largest studies on body image ever carried out, brought about by a collaborative research effort involving over 250 scientists across the world.
“Our finding that greater body appreciation is associated with better psychological wellbeing highlights the importance of developing ways to promote more positive body image globally.
“Also, people who live in urban areas may feel stronger pressure to conform to body ideals promoted by Western society. It is also notable that people from countries considered culturally different to the United States appeared to have broadly greater body appreciation.
“People in rural areas may also benefit from being in nature, which past research has also shown to be linked with positive body image.
“This research also highlights what can be achieved when scientists from across the world come together to achieve a common goal,” he added.