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Many in U.S. No Longer Worry About Weight

Survey Shows Concern About Weight Loss Is at an All-Time Low
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

May 5, 2011 -- Though researchers have repeatedly sounded the alarm about America’s bulging waistlines, a new survey shows that those warnings appear to be falling on deaf, or at least confused, ears when it’s time to eat.

The survey, which has been conducted since 2006 by the nonprofit International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, finds that concern about weight and weight loss efforts are at an all-time low. 

Most respondents don’t count calories, and more people admit that they’re not trying to balance the number of calories they eat and burn.

“My first response is exhaustion,” says longtime nutrition educator Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University.

“If people want to lose weight, they have to eat less,” she says.

Levels of inactivity appear to be on the rise, too. More Americans say they are sedentary in 2011 compared to 2010, 43% and 37% respectively.

At the same time, fewer people in the survey considered themselves to be overweight this year compared to last, though their reported weights and heights would have landed them in that category.

Compared to 2010’s survey, more people say their diets are healthy and fewer are making dietary changes.

Taste and Price Are Food-Buying Considerations

At a time of economic uncertainty, however, the survey suggests weight loss may be on the back burner for a lot of people.

Taste is the main reason people buy food at the grocery store or a restaurant, but price is catching up as a main consideration. Though 87% of people report taste is their top priority, 79% made price the No. 2 factor in food and drink decision making -- a 15% jump for price since 2006. Healthfulness of food ranked third: 66% said a food’s nutritional quality affected their food choices.

“Other things are top of mind,” says Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, senior vice president of food safety and nutrition at the IFIC Foundation. “But it is interesting that it’s happening in an environment where there’s an increased emphasis on health and wellness.”

Other experts agree.

“I honestly think Americans have a very overwhelmed lifestyle,” says Kimberly Thedford, MS, RD, a senior research nutritionist at Northwestern University in Chicago, “that it’s challenging for them to give the attention to their food intake that they need to, other than for enjoyment.”

Survey Findings

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.

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