Americans weigh, on average, about 20 pounds more than they did 20 years ago, according to a new report from Gallup.
The findings, based on the annual Gallup Health and Healthcare Survey, show that men weigh on average 196 pounds and women are reporting they weigh on average 160 pounds, up nearly 20 pounds from self-reported weights in 1990.
Moreover, the report shows that our “ideal weight” has increased — for men, it is now 181 pounds (up from 177 pounds a decade ago), and for women, it is now 138 pounds (up from 137 a decade ago).
A previous Gallup poll has shown that more people are normal weight than overweight in the United States (36.6 percent, compared with 35.8 percent), a phenomenon that hasn’t occurred in more than three years.
However, when you add together the number of Americans who are overweight AND the number who are obese, that number is still extremely high — at 61.6 percent — and is greater than the number of normal weight Americans.
Overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) of 25 to 29.9, while obese is defined as having a BMI of 30 or above. Normal weight is defined as having a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.
Still, just 39 percent of Americans classified themselves as overweight, with 56 percent reporting their weight was “about right.”
“The disconnect between the percentage who are over their ideal weight and the percentage who say they are overweight may come from Americans’ own reluctance to describe themselves using such a term,” the researchers wrote.
Earlier this year, a report in the Lancet suggested that half of Americans will be obese by the year 2030 if obesity and overweight trends continue as they are now.
The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures for the US population in 2010 released in July are alarming: 12 states have obesity rates higher than 30% and no state had a rate lower than 20%. Since these figures rely on self-reported height and weight, they are likely to be underestimated.
The Lancet report estimates of 1·46 billion adults and 170 million children overweight or obese worldwide in 2008.
If we continue without successful interventions, the projections for 2030 in the second paper of the Series estimate 65 million more obese adults in the USA and 11 million more in the UK alone with an additional 6—8·5 million people with diabetes, 5·7—7·3 million with heart disease and stroke, and 492 000—669 000 with cancer.
“At the rate we’re looking at right now, it’s a dire prediction,” study researcher Claire Wang, of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, told ABC News. “Something has to be done.” [via Huffington Post, New York Post and The Lancet]