Thursday, December 01, 2016

About half of U.S. adults are fatter than they think they are, say Gallup poll and CDC study

One of the biggest problems with the obesity epidemic could be that many Americans think they're not as overweight as they really are, Art Swift reports for The Gallup Organization. An annual Gallup poll conducted earlier this month of 1,019 adults in all 50 states found that 37 percent of adults feel they are somewhat overweight or very overweight, matching the average trend from polls since 2010. Those numbers are down from 41 percent from 2000-2009 and 44 percent from 1990-99.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that 56 percent of Americans in 1990 were considered obese or overweight and 48 percent of Gallup poll respondents that year agreed, Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post. Today, 70.4 percent of Americans are obese or overweight, nearly twice as many as said so on the most recent Gallup poll.

Also, the ideal weight and actual weight are on the rise, Ingraham writes. The average weight for men has risen from 180 in 1990 to 194 today, with the ideal weight increasing from 171 to 182. For women, the actual weight has increased from 142 to 158 and the ideal weight from 129 to 140. (Post graphic: Percent of overweight adults vs. those who say they are overweight)
Yale University physician and sociologist Nicholas Christakis, who specializes in biological behavior, told Ingraham, "As a person's social contacts gain weight, it seems to change the person’s idea about what an acceptable body size is. This may result in the person him/herself gaining weight, or, even if it does not, it makes the person more accepting of other people’s weight gain."

Twenty-five states have adult obesity rates over 30 percent, according to the 2016 State of Obesity report. Nine of the 11 most obese states are in the South, and 22 of the top 25 are in the South and Midwest. Louisiana has the highest obesity rate, 36.2 percent. Obesity rates are above 20 percent in every state; in 1991, no state had a rate above 20 percent.

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