Majority of US Adults Exceed Ideal Weight

November 29, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Data-driven | Food & Restaurants | Men | Pharma & Healthcare | Radio | Women

More than six in 10 American adults weigh more than they would ideally like to, while fewer than two in 10 are at their ideal weight, according to Gallup’s annual Health and Healthcare survey.

Average American Weighs 16 Lbs. More than Ideal

American adults, on average, report that they weigh 177 pounds, but would like to weigh 161. Sixty-two percent are over their ideal weight, 19% are at their ideal weight, and 11% are under their ideal weight.

Looking at gender differences, the average man weighs 193 pounds, 12 pounds more than the average ideal weight of 181 pounds. Fifty-nine percent of US men are overweight, 22% are at their ideal weight, and 15% are underweight.

Meanwhile, the average woman weighs 159 pounds, 19 pounds more than the average ideal weight of 140 pounds. Sixty-five percent of US women are overweight, 17% are at their ideal weight, and 9% are underweight.

Almost 6 in 10 US Adults Say Weight is OK

Despite the preceding statistics, the large majority of Americans (57%) describe their weight as “about right.” Another 38% admit to being very or somewhat overweight, while only 5% describe themselves as underweight.

Women are far less likely than men to say their weight is about right (50% compared to 64%) and far more likely to say they are very or somewhat overweight (45% compared to 30%). The percentage of women (4%) and men (5%) claiming to be underweight is virtually identical, however.

More Want to Lose Weight than Admit Excess Weight

More than half of Americans (54%) say they want to lose weight, and 27% say they are seriously trying to do so. These figures are similar to those from past years.

Significantly, more Americans say they want to lose weight than describe themselves as overweight. Gallup says this discrepancy may point to Americans’ reluctance to use the term “overweight” to describe their situation, even as they recognize that their actual weight is higher than their ideal weight, and acknowledge that they would like to lose weight.

Women tend to be more likely to want to shed extra pounds and take action toward that goal. Sixty-one percent of women say they would like to lose weight, compared with 45% of men. And more women than men , 32% compared to 21%, are seriously trying to lose weight.

Obesity Higher among Middle-aged, African-Americans

Middle-aged and African-American adults are more likely to be obese than Americans of other ages or ethnic groups, according to recent data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

According to Gallup-Healthways Daily tracking data collected between January-August 2010, an average of 26.7% of adult Americans are obese, based on their self-reported height and weight. Roughly 3 in 10 Americans aged 45 to 64 are obese, more than in any other age group. More broadly, black Americans aged 45 to 64 are the most likely of any of the racial and ethnic groups used in this analysis, at any age, to be obese, at 41%.

About the Data: Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 4-7, 2010, with a random sample of 1,021 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.


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