Measurements of obesity [body mass index (BMI)] and body fat distribution [waist-to-hip ratio (WHR)] were analyzed in 284 51-year-old men in relation to items about social, mental, and physical well-being from the Göteborg Quality of Life Instrument. Overweight participants (BMI > or = 25) reported a better home-family situation, appetite, and self-esteem, but decreased physical fitness and more pain in the legs compared with their leaner counterparts. Men with abdominal obesity (WHR > or = 1.0) experienced impaired health and physical fitness and lower self-esteem compared with those with WHR or = 1.0. Overweight and abdominal obesity seem differently associated with social, mental, and physical well-being in men. Impaired quality of life may be causally related to the development of abdominal obesity; the mechanism involved might be increased cortisol secretion, which can redistribute body fat to central adipose tissue depots.