Plump Americans Blind to Diabetes Risk

Even Those Who Know Weight's Link to Diabetes Say It Can't Happen to Them

From the WebMD Archives

Sept. 11, 2003 -- Being overweight puts you at risk of type 2 diabetes.

That's news to nearly half of overweight and obese Americans, an American Diabetes Association survey shows. And even those who know weight is a serious diabetes risk factor think it can't possibly happen to them.

They're wrong, says the ADA's Martha Funnell, RN, a certified diabetes educator.

"These survey results are disturbing because they show that people with a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes -- being overweight or obese -- don't think that they could develop diabetes," Funnell says in a news release. "The truth is, if you're overweight or obese, you are at risk. The good news is that losing a relatively small amount of weight can make a real improvement in reducing a person's risk for type 2 diabetes and other serious conditions."

Survey Results

The ADA telephone survey, conducted during the second week of August 2003, included a national sample of 600 U.S. men and women. The survey has a margin of error of 4%.

The findings:

  • 52% of the respondents were overweight or obese, according to their body mass index calculated from their height and weight.
  • 65% of these overweight/obese people had tried to lose weight in the last two years. But only 22% lost weight and kept it off. The average dieter maintained weight loss for 25 weeks.
  • No matter what diet you're on, portion control is crucial. 72% of respondents felt confident about being able to identify proper portion sizes -- but fewer than one in four really knew.
  • 81% said they exercised to lose weight. But three out of four underestimated how much exercise is needed -- 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.
  • 92% said they were comfortable talking to a doctor about weight loss. But only 26% asked their doctor for help with their diets.
  • Respondents thought they had to lose a lot more weight than they really needed to lose. 38% said that a person 60 pounds overweight has to lose all 60 pounds to see a health benefit. Actually, health benefits start as soon as a person loses 5% to 7% of their weight. That's 10 to 15 pounds for most people.

WebMD Health News


SOURCES: Weight Loss Matters Survey: Assessing Public Awareness of the Relationship Between Weight and Type 2 Diabetes, American Diabetes Association, Sept. 9, 2003. News release, American Diabetes Association.
© 2003 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.