More Americans Gaining Than Losing Weight

by David W. Moore

Six in 10 overweight people have gained weight in past five years

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans are more likely to be gaining than losing weight, according to a Gallup Poll conducted last month. Overall, 44% say that in the past five years, they have gained either "a lot of weight" (9%) or "a little weight" (35%). By contrast, 18% of Americans say they have lost weight in the same period of time -- 7% have lost "a lot of weight" and another 11% "a little weight."

Surprisingly, weight gain seems to be common among Americans regardless of their background or characteristics, with only modest differences among various demographic groups.

About the same percentage of men and women report gaining weight (43% and 46%, respectively), but the oldest group of Americans -- those 65 and over -- are somewhat less likely to report gaining weight (36%) than are the other age groups (42% to 47%).

 

Thinking about how your weight has changed over the past five years, would you say you have...

Gained weight

Stayed the same

Lost weight

%

%

%

Overall

44

38

18

Gender

Male

43

40

17

Female

46

35

19

Age

18-29

42

36

22

30-49

47

38

15

50-64

47

37

16

65+

36

40

24

Age by Gender

Male 18-49

43

41

16

Male 50+

42

40

18

Female 18-49

47

34

19

Female 50+

43

37

20

Education

High school or less

50

33

17

Some college

40

40

20

College graduate

40

43

17

Postgraduate

41

42

16

Income

<$20K

47

28

25

$20K-<$30K

45

35

20

$30K-<$50K

45

42

13

$50K-<$75K

44

37

18

$75K+

42

39

19



People with no more than a high school education are somewhat more likely to report gaining weight (50%) than are the other educational groups (about 4 in 10 for each). Also, people in the lowest income group -- those with less than $20,000 a year in household income -- are a little more likely to say they have gained weight than are people earning $75,000 a year or more -- 47% vs. 42%. But these differences are relatively minor, reinforcing the general conclusion that gaining weight occurs at roughly similar rates among most groups of Americans.

Gaining Weight and Health Situation

Not surprisingly, overweight people are more likely to report gaining weight in the past five years (58%) than are people who judge themselves to be about the right weight (36%).

 

Thinking about how your weight has changed over the past five years, would you say you have...

Gained weight

Stayed the same

Lost weight

%

%

%

Status of Weight Situation

Overweight

58

26

16

About right

36

47

17

Description of Diet

Very healthy

33

40

27

Somewhat healthy

47

37

16

Not healthy

50

38

12

Description of Health

Excellent

40

46

14

Good

47

34

19

Fair/Poor

45

34

21



Similarly, people who describe their diet as "very healthy" are considerably less likely to report gaining weight (33%) than are people who describe their diet as "somewhat healthy" (47%) or "not healthy" (50%).

However, people's evaluation of their overall health does not appear to be significantly related to weight gain. There are some differences, with 40% of people who rate their health as "excellent" reporting that they gained weight, compared with 47% of those who rate their health as "good" and 45% of those who rate their health as "fair" or "poor." But these differences are small, suggesting that people do not relate their self-ratings of overall health to their experience with losing or gaining weight.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,004 national adults, aged 18+, conducted July 7-9, 2003. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

 

Thinking about how your weight has changed over the past five years, would you say you have -- [ROTATED: gained a lot of weight, gained a little weight, stayed the same, lost a little weight, (or) lost a lot of weight]?

 

Gained
a lot

Gained
a little

Stayed
the same

Lost
a little

Lost
a lot

No
opinion

2003 Jul 7-9

9%

35

38

11

7

*

2002 Jul 9-11

10%

34

35

13

8

*

* Less than 0.5%



 

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/9097/More-Americans-Gaining-Than-Losing-Weight.aspx
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