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Previous studies have linked higher body mass index (BMI) to lower subjective well-being in adult European ancestry populations. However, our understanding of these relationships across different populations is limited. Here, we investigated the association between BMI and well-being in people of (a) East Asian and (b) European ancestry in the China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) and UK Biobank (UKB), respectively. Mendelian randomisation (MR) methods were used to test the relationship between BMI with (a) health satisfaction and (b) life satisfaction. One-sample MR enabled us to test effects in men and women separately and to test the role of cultural contexts by stratifying our analyses by urban and rural home location in both China and the UK. Further, we implemented a control function method to test the linearity of the BMI-well-being relationship. We found evidence of different associations between BMI and well-being in individuals of East Asian versus European ancestry. For example, a genetically instrumented higher BMI tentatively associated with higher health satisfaction in people of East Asian ancestry, especially in females (ß: 0.041, 95% CI: 0.002, 0.081). In contrast, there was a robust inverse association between higher genetically instrumented BMI and health satisfaction in all European ancestry UKB participants (ß: -0.183, 95% CI: -0.200, -0.165, Pdifference 

Original publication




Journal article


Transl Psychiatry

Publication Date





Adult, Female, Humans, Male, Body Mass Index, China, East Asian People, European People, Health Status