On 15 January 2017, the Argentinian news site Nuevo Diario, among others, published an article with the (translated) headline “Study Confirms That Chubby Women Make a Man Happier Than a Skinny Woman.” That story was picked up by a number of English language sites, including “The Laugh Bible”:
New research: Men who marry chubby women are happier and live longer
According to a new study, men who are in relationships with chubby women tend to smile more and be better at dealing with problems than men who are in relationships with thin women.
The study also shows that thin women tend to be more reserved, more unfriendly and less expressive with their emotions.
The Argentinian newspaper Nuevo Diario reports on the findings from the research conducted by Dr Filemón Alvarado and Dr Edgardo Morales at UNAM’s department of psychology.
According to their research, chubby women make their men ten times as happy as thin women. And we all know that happy people live longer.
The study also indicated that chubby women are better at anticipating their partner’s needs.
In terms of science journalism, a number of red flags were apparent right off the bat. The easiest to spot would be the fact that not a single news report on this topic provided a link to the "new study" it referenced.
Second, and perhaps more damning, is the fact that a quick Google Scholar search provides no evidence that anybody named Filemón Alvarado or Edgardo Morales ever published anything remotely approaching this topic over at least the past two years.
Third, a regular Google search on their names provides only links related to this one viral story.
Additionally, the web site of the psychology department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (option one for UNAM) does not list someone by either name as a faculty member, and the web site for the National University of Misiones in Argentina (option two for UNAM) provides no evidence that the school has a psychology department at all.
The final documentable red flag is the fact that the alleged study (a thesis reportedly titled “Vale más que sobre y que no falte”) does not turn up in a search of either institutions’ web sites.
While we are not rating the claims of the study itself, we are rating its existence as unproven for the above reasons. We have reached out to both UNAMs and will update if either institution is able clarify the confusion.