Americans aren’t aware of how much weight they’re gaining, which could end up making the country’s obesity epidemic even worse.
Many adults who took part in a survey between 2008-2009 thought they lost weight when they actually gained.
The study was based on a survey of 775,000 adults who were asked to report their weight from one year to the next. Overall, they said the numbers on the scale dropped.
However, statistics show American adults gained weight in 2008, with the prevalence of obesity rising from 26 to 26.5%, and the average weight increasing by a pound.
Researchers determined that people generally were out of touch with what was going on with their bodies or possibly even in denial.
Certain groups were more prone to accuracy flubs than others. Diabetics reporting their weight from one year to the next were off by an average of 4 pounds, and adults over age 50 were off by about 2 pounds. The average mistake was being off by a pound. It doesn’t sound like much, but the average includes people who were accurate, meaning that they were off by zero pounds. So that means that the majority of people were off by considerably more than the average.
Researchers are concerned about these personal misperceptions for several reasons. One is for personal health benefits, because if you’re in denial about how much weight you’re gaining and how much you’re eating, you’re at risk for developing weight-related complications.
Also, if scientists had relied on the flawed data, obese adults would have been undercounted by 4.4 million.
Some groups were better at recognizing when they gained weight, including those under 40, smokers, minorities, those with poor diets, and those who were sedentary.