Americans Report a Lack of Desire to Lose Weight Despite Weighing More this Decade
Mon, April 19, 2021

Americans Report a Lack of Desire to Lose Weight Despite Weighing More this Decade

Americans said they gained more weight over the last decade, but they aren't looking to shed some pounds / Photo by: tmcphotos via Shutterstock

 

Americans said they gained more weight over the last decade, but they aren't looking to shed some pounds.

According to a new survey from Gallup, Washington-based analytics and advisory company, the average self-reported weight among US adults rose by a four-point jump from 2001 to 2009. Figures show only a few consider themselves overweight or obese given the change in their perception of ideal weight to a higher scale.

Being comfortable with their current weight, many Americans' desire to lose weight has decreased over the last 10 years.


Changes in Perception

Gallup has conducted a survey on Americans, asking them about their current and ideal weight every November since 1990. In their poll over the last decade, an average of 28% of US adults said they weighed 200 pounds or more—that's more than the 24% recorded from 2001 to 2009.

Their self-reported weight also increased; from 174 pounds to 178 pounds in which the increases are similar between men (four pounds) and women (three pounds). An average of 42% of men reported weighing 200 or more pounds while 14% percent of women said the same (four points and two points higher than the past decade, respectively).

Although they weighed more, fewer Americans said they are overweight. The number of US adults who said they were overweight dropped to 38% from the previous decade's 41%. Accordingly, the average percentage of Americans who reported having the "right weight" increased to 56% from 53%.

These changes could be driven by the shifts in their perception of their ideal weight, which they said is 200 pounds or more. About 14% of Americans said their ideal weight is in that range, compared to the 11% who said the same in the 2001-2009 survey.

As Americans became more content with their current weight, the number of those who are looking to lose some pounds dropped. The Gallup poll found that only 54% said they want to lose weight over the last decade--that's a five-point decrease from those who said the same from 2001-2009

"The average percentages saying they want to shed pounds fell by the same amount, five percentage points, among men and women between the two decades," the researchers said.

"Both are more likely than they were from 2001-2009 to say they intend to stay at their current weight -- 42% of men and 35% of women this decade, compared with 39% and 31%, respectively."

Americans' BMI Keep Rising

The Gallup poll indicates a positive change in Americans' attitudes towards their weight, but there are restrictions in its results. While a significant number believe they are not overweight or obese, the self-reported nature of the survey may indicate that the respondents don't know their exact weight or where it falls in the BMI range.

The BMI (body mass index) is a measurement of a person's weight with respect to their height as an indicator of their total body fat. This means that as one's BMI score rises, so does their body fat. People who have a BMI of 30 or higher are defined as obese, with an overweight BMI beginning at around 25.

CNN reports that a weight of 200 pounds is not unhealthy for people with a height of 6-feet-4-inches or taller. However, as per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's adult BMI calculator, those who are shorter and have the said weight can be considered overweight or obese.

The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics' 2018 report found similar results to the Gallup survey, in which the average weight of American men and women continues to rise even though their average heights remain the same.

In that study, the average BMI of the participants sat at around 30—meaning they are likely obese.

Addressing the Epidemic

Obesity is seen as an epidemic in the US, partly driven by a new batch of diets that promise quick results that come at the expense of reducing the consumption of important nutrients, the Gallup poll notes. CNN says the long-term effects of these weight-reducing methods have yet to be studied since they are fairly recent.

Other causes for the condition are being genetically designed to have a bigger appetite than others or learning behaviors that affect the way people eat and see food in their lives. Obesity is not only tied with adverse physical conditions like heart disease and diabetes, as well as certain types of cancer, but it is also associated with poorer mental health.

While there is no single solution to this epidemic, the World Health Organization says being obese and overweight is highly preventable.

"Supportive environments and communities are fundamental in shaping people’s choices, by making the choice of healthier foods and regular physical activity the easiest choice (the choice that is the most accessible, available and affordable), and therefore preventing overweight and obesity," the UN health agency explains.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends consuming healthier foods instead of completely giving up food as some diets would recommend. In that way, people can still reduce their calorie intake without sacrificing the nutrients they need or starving themselves.

Obesity is seen as an epidemic in the US, partly driven by a new batch of diets that promise quick results that come at the expense of reducing the consumption of important nutrients, the Gallup poll notes / Photo by: kurhan via Shutterstock