Americans Eating Healthier and Exercising, Yeah Right
For those keeping score:
- Medical professionals keep telling us that, as a nation, we’re fat. Two-thirds of Americans are said to be overweight or obese.
- Certain consumer advocacy groups say food manufacturers and restaurants serve unhealthy foods designed to keep Americans coming back for more while piling on the pounds.
- Food manufacturers, restaurants and their advocacy groups say the industry is improving product formulations and offering healthier items. They also rightfully point out consumers have the ability to eat smaller portions and that exercise needs to involve more than walking from the couch to the refrigerator and back.
- Consumers, more than 75 percent of them, it turns out, say their eating habits are healthy and 40 percent of people classified as obese say they do vigorous exercise at least three times a week.
The question we’re left with is, “If everyone is eating right and exercising, than why are we so, well, blubbery?”
Dr. David Schutt of Thomson Medstat, the Michigan-based health-care research firm that conducted a phone survey of 11,000 people regarding their eating and exercise habits, told The Associated Press, “There is, perhaps, some denial going on. Or there is a lack of understanding of what does it mean to be eating healthy, and what is vigorous exercise.” (Memo to Dr. Schutt, “You think?”)
Individuals involved in the study were classified by body-mass index (BMI). Using this calculation, 3,100 of the people in the survey were classified as obese or morbidly obese; 4,200 were overweight; 3,800 were normal weight and 200 were underweight..
The biggest issue with the study, according to Dr. Jeffrey Koplan of Emory University, is that it touches on the types of foods eaten but not the quantities consumed.
For example, Medstat found 28 percent of obese people have a snack two or more times a day, which is only slightly more than normal weight people, 24 percent of whom report doing the same thing. What is not determined, according to Dr. Koplan, is how much is actually eaten while snacking.
Still, said Dr. Schutt, when you look at the habits of overweight and normal weight people such as snacking, meals away from home, exercise, reading food labels, etc., “The numbers aren’t wildly different.”
One area where a significant difference did pop up was in whether people ate everything on their plate when going out to a restaurant. About 41 percent of obese people said they always did, compared to 31 percent of normal weight individuals.
Medstat said its survey had a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.
Discussion Question: How does the food manufacturing, foodservice and retailing community deal with obesity and related issues in society when such a
large number of consumers are seemingly in denial about their own weight issues, eating and exercise habits?