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Weight Perceptions

Research says that thin people don’t see themselves as slimmer than most and average size folks often see themselves as fat. What about those of you who are overweight or obese? Read on and when you’re done reading, think about how accurately you assess your weight and why you think the way you do. No self-judgments, please!

The following article is reprinted from the EDReferral.com Newsletter, October 2010.
Overweight? Obese? Or Normal Weight? Americans Have Hard Time Gauging Their Weight. New poll finds 30% of those overweight think they are normal size. For many Americans fat is the new "norm." More and more people are unable to accurately describe themselves using their height-to-weight ratio—known as body mass index—the scale that determines levels of overweight and obesity, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll found. The poll revealed that 30% of overweight people think they're actually normal size, 70% of obese people feel they are merely overweight, and 39% of morbidly obese people think they are overweight but not obese. That means fat may be becoming the new normal, raising the specter of increasing rates of health threats such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. "While there are some people who have body images in line with their actual BMI [body mass index], for many people they are not, and this may be where part of the problem lies," said Regina Corso, vice president of Harris Poll Solutions. "If they do not recognize the problem or don't recognize the severity of the problem, they are less likely to do something about it." Among other findings of the poll, conducted online August 17-19 with 2,418 adults ages 18 and older: Most respondents who felt they were heavier than they should be blamed lack of exercise as the main cause, with 52% of overweight people, 75% of obese people and 75% of morbidly obese people saying they didn't exercise enough. Food consumption was seen as the lesser of two culprits, with 36% of overweight respondents, 48% of obese respondents and 27% of those morbidly obese feeling they ate more than they "should in general." "In the mindset of most Americans, they're not looking at this as a food problem as much as an exercise problem," Corso said. "Three out of five Americans overall are saying they don't exercise as much as they should." On the subject of weight-loss remedies, the poll found Americans deemed surgery the most effective method, followed by prescription drugs, then drugs and diet-food supplements obtained over-the-counter. "Americans like the quick fix and that's what they think the surgery is even though there are so many other things that work," Corso said. "The American public knows this but it's hard and it's something that they're not quite ready to do. This wake-up call still isn't ringing as loudly as it could."