Published September 13, 2011
A new report issued last week warned us that, if trends in the U.S. waistline continue as they are, 50 percent of our population would be obese by 2030. There are many reasons why overweight and obesity are such problems right now. Some research suggests that we’ve grown more comfortable being overweight and that being overweight has become “normal,” while being of an ideal weight may appear to be “underweight.”
While national surveys show that 67 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, a new survey of 1,000 Americans by Russell Research commissioned by Pollock Communications, showed only 52 percent of Americans believe they are overweight. This lack of reality around body weight and diet is considered to be one of the many barriers in the nation’s growing obesity epidemic. We’ve become more “numb” to overweight and obesity because it’s everywhere; a person who is of normal weight actually appears to be the one who doesn’t fit in anymore.
Research published in scientific journals has found that obesity appears to be socially contagious. For example, Harvard Medical School researchers found that your chances of becoming obese are 57 percent greater if you have a close friend who is obese. Researchers at Arizona State University also found that women who had someone in their social circle who was overweight or obese were more likely to have pounds to lose too.
If your friends are overweight it makes it easier to accept your weight, even if it’s more than what you’d really like to weigh. In addition, your eating and exercise habits may be impacted by what your friends want to eat and do socially.
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In our country where the majority of individuals need to lose weight, it’s become too easy to live large, making it harder to motivate people to take steps to shed pounds. Vanity-sized apparel; Lycra (read: stretchy) clothing; larger plates, bowls, glasses and utensils; wider seats in cars and movie theaters; and bigger portions are all examples of ways the environment has changed to make it more comfy being overweight.
If you think your friends and family may be making it harder for you to stick with your resolve to eat healthier, consider taking a few steps like using an online BMI calculator and weighing yourself weekly to keep tabs on the number on the scale. You can also use your online social network to connect with dietitians and personal trainers who you can “friend” and therefore get their daily updates to keep you grounded in the realities of what’s a healthy weight.