Consumer Trends

Obesity is in the eye of the beholder

More Americans are classified as obese than ever before, yet a large proportion of obese people do not think they are fat, according to a study conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Tiffany M. Powell and colleagues found that among 2,000 obese Dallas county residents, only a small percentage believed they needed to lose weight. Additionally, these “misperceivers” often thought they were healthy and not at risk.

  • Of the obese people surveyed, only 14% of African Americans, 11% of Hispanics and 2% of whites believed they needed to lose weight
  • 8% overall did not consider themselves obese
  • Those with misperceived body size were happier with their health and felt healthier; they also thought they were at low risk of developing diseases linked to obesity
  • 66% of people with misperceived body size thought they had a low risk of becoming obese
  • Half of those with misperceived body size believed they were healthier than most people their age, compared to only one-third of those with accurate weight perception
  • 44% of misperceived and 25% of accurately perceived had not seen a doctor in the past year
  • Education and income were not factors in weight perception

The study shows the large lack of understanding regarding obesity and its effects. There is also the possibility that self-perceptions are changing with the increase in the obese population in America.

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