With all the attention on the nation’s obesity epidemic, Americans are increasingly becoming more health and weight conscious. For generations, women have focused on dieting, while men prefer to get fit in the gym, but gender stereotypes no longer apply. A recent Gallup poll revealed a shift in perceptions about weight since 1990.
The poll indicates that 55% of women are still more likely to worry about their weight, compared to 41% of men, but that gender gap has narrowed since 1990 when 46% of women and 21% of men. Overall, in 2010 and 2012, 48% of Americans express concern about their weight from time to time, whereas only 34% felt concern in 1990.
Personal perceptions on weight have not changed significantly over the decade, with about the same percentage of people describing themselves as very/somewhat overweight, about right, or very/somewhat underweight. Men and women were equally likely to admit they were overweight, but even the two in five Americans who are willing to say they are overweight is less than the national projections of obesity. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index BMI calculations found that 62% of Americans were either overweight or obese, based on government definitions (36% were overweight and 26% were obese), in the second quarter of this year.
“More Americans, especially men, worry about their weight now than did so 22 years ago, though the overall percentage of adults who worry has leveled off in recent years,” Gallup surmised from the data. “This suggests that weight has become part of the larger overall social consciousness, among men and women. The increase in weight worry overall coincides with more Americans saying obesity is a serious problem to society. Americans may be coming to terms with America’s collective weight problem and its impact on society, including healthcare costs.”
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