THE word "jolly" has long been a byword word for "plump", hijacked by experts in the back handed compliment.
But scientists believe there could be genetic evidence which explains why fat people are often happier than their skinny friends.
It comes after Strictly favourite Lisa Riley has been flying the flag for larger women insisting she is a "big, happy girl", more than comfortable with her size. The breakthrough could be an explanation for why obese characters, such as The Laughing Policeman and Father Christmas, are often portrayed as jovial and kindly scientists from McMaster University in Canada found the so called "fat gene" FTO is also a "happy gene" too.
FTO is the major genetic contributor to obesity. But it is also associated with an 8 per cent reduction in the risk of depression.
Researchers at McMaster University in Canada had been investigating whether there is a link between obesity and depression. But when they investigated the genetic and psychiatric status of patients enrolled in the EpiDREAM study, led by the Population Health Research Institute, they found the opposite was true.
The study analysed 17,200 DNA samples from participants in 21 countries. Results showed those with the the previously identified FTO gene — the fat gene — showed significantly less signs of depression.
The study finding was confirmed by analysing the genetic status of patients in three additional international studies.