According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more Americans than ever are overweight. However, according to some new Gallup data, far fewer of us actually think we’re overweight
In recent years, the gap between how overweight we think we are and how overweight we are is wider than it’s ever been. In 1990, about 56% of Americans qualified as obese or overweight, according to the CDC. Back then, we were pretty honest with ourselves about the state of our waistlines, although we fudged it just a bit — 48% considered themselves “very” or “somewhat” overweight, according to Gallup.
Over the years, however, that eight-point gap between perception and reality has ballooned along with our waistlines. Today, 7 in 10 Americans are obese or overweight, but only 36% think they have a weight problem.
In 1990, for instance, the typical American man weighed 180 pounds and said his ideal weight was about 171. Today that man has gained 14 pounds, and his ideal weight has moved up with it. The typical man now says he’d like to weight about as much as the average man in 1990 actually did weigh. You see a similar effect happening among women, although in this case the gap between actual and ideal weight is even wider — close to 20 pounds in 2016.
State and federal policymakers have tried to tackle the obesity epidemic with limited success, to say the least. Perhaps the most well-known recent program is Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative aimed at ending childhood obesity.
Some critics of these programs have argued that they don’t work because overweight people already know they’re overweight, and they know that being overweight is bad for your health. Federal efforts to raise awareness of, say, the negative health consequences of being overweight don’t do much good if everyone knows that being fat is bad for you. Taken together, the Gallup and CDC data suggest a different mechanism at work: Anti-obesity efforts might not be working because roughly half of overweight people don’t actually realize they’re overweight.
If you are not one of those in denial and are seeking treatment for obesity and the conditions that go along with it, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda. He and his team of experts can help find the right treatment for you.