Poll: Many adults recognize being overweight but aren’t taking action

12 30 15 tape measureDec. 30, 2015—Many adults who think they’re overweight say they’d like to drop the pounds, according to a recent Gallup poll. But the results also showed that most are not making real efforts to lose weight.

Packing extra pounds carries some pretty serious health consequences. Among other problems, it brings an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

About the poll

Between 2011 and 2015, Gallup gathered information from nearly 5,000 adults from across the U.S. with a telephone survey.

According to the 2015 poll results:

  • On average, adults weighed more than they wanted to. Adults shared what they thought their ideal weight to be: on average, 183 pounds for men and 139 for women. In reality, the average self-reported actual weight was 196 pounds for men and 155 pounds for women.
  • 31 percent of adults thought they weighed at least 20 pounds too much. Of these, 90 percent said they want to lose weight. But just 48 percent said they are seriously trying to lose weight.

Combining averages from all years:

  • Less than a fifth of adults were at their ideal weight. Only 18 percent of adults reported being at their ideal weight. But overall, 48 percent said they were at or within 10 pounds of their perceived ideal.

Based on the last 5 years of the survey, many adults think they are overweight. But the number of people who are doing something about it has not been increasing during this time period, the pollsters reported.

No recommendations or medical observations came from the poll. However, it does suggest that many Americans aren’t managing their weight the way they’d like to.

The take-home message
Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And more than a third of American adults are now obese.

For those who need to lose pounds, a loss of just 5 to 10 percent of their starting weight can be a big health boost, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Reaching a healthy weight lowers the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Are you overweight—or obese? There’s no time like the present to begin a healthy journey toward weight management. Work with a healthcare provider to set small, specific goals that can add up to big benefits over time. For example, an attainable goal might be “walk 30 minutes a day on 5 days each week.”

Check out our Weight Management health topic center to learn more about reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.


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