Americans in Denial About Weight
By George Anderson
Americans know an overweight person when they see one, unless, of course, they happen to be looking in the mirror.
A survey of adults in the U.S. by the Pew Research Center found that, although 90 percent believe the majority of Americans are overweight, only 39 percent believe they fall into that classification.
Survey respondents also believe the issue is becoming more pronounced. Eighty-five percent of Americans are more overweight now than five years ago. Sixty-seven percent see this issue as a major problem.
The report, Americans See Weight Problems Everywhere But In the Mirror, found it is common for members of both sexes to overestimate their height while underestimating their weight. The result is that most do not see themselves as being overweight, even though government statistics say 65 percent of Americans were either overweight or obese.
The good news for restaurants, food manufacturers and retailers is that consumers believe that individual weight problems have more to do with a lack of personal responsibility than anything being done by outside parties.
A lack of exercise and restraint in making the right food choices are the two most often mentioned reasons given by respondents to explain the numbers of overweight people in society.
Even those getting exercise believe they could be doing more. Fifty-seven percent said they are engaged in regular physical activity but 70 percent, whether on an exercise program or not, thought they could or should be doing more.
The research also contradicted previous findings about the issues that overweight people face in society. While 91 percent said being overweight had either a little or a lot to do with the perception of physical beauty, only 12 percent report being treated badly because of their weight. The number of those feeling as if they were treated badly was higher among women (16 percent) than men (7 percent).
Moderator’s Comment: Are Americans in denial about their weight issues? What are the implications for the manufacturing,
foodservice and retailing communities? – George Anderson – Moderator