In the 2011 survey, 50% of respondents considered themselves to be overweight compared to 57% in 2010.
The number who considered themselves to be obese held steady, however, at about 8% in both those years.
According to information on weight and height collected by the online survey, about 34% of the respondents were actually overweight, and 34% were obese.
That finding is interesting for a couple of reasons, Smith Edge says. First, it represents an overall drop in the number of people who think of themselves as being overweight, and second, it shows that many people underestimate how bad their weight problem really is.
Only 57% of participants say they are concerned about their weight this year, down from 70% in 2010 and an all-time low for the survey.
Those who say they are trying to lose or maintain weight is also down, 69% in 2011 compared to 77% in 2010.
“This is a somewhat ominous trend,” says David L. Katz, MD, MPH, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn.
Katz thinks the survey may be picking up signs of a “normalization” of larger body sizes. As friends and families also grow in girth, people feel OK by comparison.
“We might like to be OK at any size, but the simple fact of the matter is that we’re not,” he says. “We are getting diabetes, we are getting heart disease, we are getting preventable cancers, many of them having to do with our size, and that’s not OK. These things are happening in our children, and that’s not OK.”