Overweight But Unchanging: Gallup on the Weight of a Nation
Americans continue to aspire to lose weight, but are not taking actions to do so. Gallup conducted its annual Health and Healthcare survey between November 7 and November 10 this year. According to the survey, 51 percent of Americans want to lose weight, but only 25 percent are working on achieving this goal.
The gap between desire and actual effort has existed for many years, and is slightly less than what it was ten years ago. In 2003, 58 percent of Americans wanted to lose weight, and 24 percent were endeavoring to do so. It is likely that Americans also weigh more now then they did then. Compared to self-reported weights in 1990, Americans are, on average, 15 pounds heavier today.
Although just over half want to lose weight, only 36 percent report that they are overweight. Women are more likely than men to report they are overweight, 39 percent versus 34 percent. Gallup found responders more likely to classify themselves as being “over ideal weight,” which 59 percent of adults said they were. The data for “over ideal weight” is closer to, but still far off from, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics on overweight Americans. According to CDC estimates from 2009-2010, 69.2 percent of adult Americans were “overweight” a category that includes obesity as well.
Another Gallup poll, this one from 2012, showed that 81 percent of Americans find obesity to be a problem that is either extremely serious, or very serious for Americans. Cigarettes came in second place, with 67 percent. At the beginning of November, Gallup released more statistics on obesity in America. The number of Americans who are obese, they say, gained a percentage point in 2013, landing at 27.2 percent.
All three Gallup reports display a concern by Americans over the obesity rate, and a desire to lower their own weight to an “ideal” standard. They perceive weight to be a problem both personally, and nationally, yet largely do nothing to impact the statistics. There is also a disconnect between what Americans view their weight as, and what data compiled by the CDC says it is. This means that potentially even more Americans are in danger of the adverse health implications of being overweight, but do no realize, or acknowledge it.
The CDC explains that the risk for developing coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, or certain kinds of cancer increase as a person’s weight reaches the categories of “overweight,” and “obese.” Weight has an impact on the economy as well. The CDC estimates medical costs related to obesity were $147 billion in 2008. A decade earlier, it was $78.5 billion.
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