The idea that every woman in American is desperately trying to lose weight is a total myth, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Despite two-thirds of Americans being overweight or obese, “the majority of Americans say their weights is ‘about right,’ as they have typically responded over the past 20 years. But the 60 percent who describe themselves as ‘about right’ is the highest Gallup has ever found.”
The Gallup report referred to this paradox as “weight denial.” While most Americans know they should lose some weight, when push come to shove (or run, or lift weights) everyone just settles in and figures “we’re fine as we are.”
And the fatter we get, the higher our “ideal weight” climbs. Men’s average ideal weight is up 14 pounds since Gallup first measured in 1990. Their actual weight is up 16 pounds. The ideal weight cited for women is up 11 pounds since the 1990 study, and actual weight is up 14 pounds. So not only are we getting fatter, our ideal selves are getting fat right along with us.
In other words, people have been saying they’ve wanted to lose about 10 to 15 pounds for the past two decades, even though their current weight keeps rising.
The recent Gallup poll found that the majority of men say they are at or below their ideal weight, along with about one-quarter of women. Only one-quarter of women said they were seriously trying to lose weight, which Gallup notes is “much lower than the percentage who are above their ideal weight or say they would like to lose weight.”
An important note about this survey is that subjects’ weight was self-reported, and not verified by doctors or scales. Since many people either lie about their weight, or take a guess, this could be a problem for the poll’s results. Nearly 40 percent of overweight women in a 2010 study believed themselves to be thinner than they actually were. In an additional rebuttal of the “women always think they’re fat” idea, only 16 percent of normal-weighted women in the study perceived themselves as overweight.
The bottom line is this. We are fat. And we’re ok with that, whether its healthy or not.