Cartoons often depict the greedy “fat cats” of the corporate world as overweight misers, but a new study has suggested that the opposite may actually be true. According to the research, lower blood sugar levels in individuals with low body weights is assocaited with a higher inclination towards selfishness.

The research showed that in situations where people had to make economic decisions, lean men made more unfair decisions than heavy men and offered 16 percent less money. When thin men did give away money, they were twice as likely to give money to other lean men than heavy men. Interestingly, risk-seeking behavior did not differ between lean and corpulent men. The researchers concluded that disparities in generosity among men of different body sizes could be explained by differences in blood-glucose concentrations.

For the study, German researchers had 20 lean and 20 heavy men perform a large set of an ultimatum, trust, and risk game to measure their aptitude in each characteristic. While low blood sugar levels affected the behavior of both groups, making them more inclined to favor self-interest and be less trusting, these effects on heavier individuals were less pronounced, Sky News reported.

“Our data show that economic decision-making is affected by both, the body weight of the participants and the body weight of their opponents, and that blood glucose concentrations should be taken into consideration when analysing economic decision making," the researchers concluded in their report.

Weight and blood sugar aren't the only factors that may affect generosity: Recently, a study from Michigan State University and New York University found an association between humility and generosity. According to the research, people who believed they were high-status individuals were less charitable to others, but only when they felt completely deserving of their status. On the other hand, high status individuals who were humble about their powerful place were more generous than expected.

"The effects of social status on generosity are contingent on deservingness, meaning that high-ranking people don't always behave selfishly, as a significant amount of research suggests, but do indeed care about whether or not they deserve their position," said the study's lead author Nicholas Hays, assistant professor of management at Michigan State University, in a statement.

Source: Kubera B, Wagner C, Klement J, Peters A. Differences in fairness and trust between lean and corpulent men. International Journal of Obesity. 2016

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