More than one-third of American adults today are obese according to The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, but a new survey from Anytime Fitness finds that most people don’t think they are part of the problem—and those who do want to get healthier may be setting themselves up for failure from the start.
The fitness club chain’s annual ‘Weight of the Union’ survey found that although almost nine out of ten adults surveyed (84% percent) believe Americans generally weigh more now than they did five years ago, 56 percent of overweight respondents and 30 percent of obese respondents felt they were at normal weights compared to the general American public.
However, staying closer to home led to a more accurate assessment of BMI. When asked to compare themselves to family and friends, the number of overweight people who felt they were at a normal weight dropped to 45 percent. The number of obese respondents who felt they were at a normal weight dropped even more drastically, to just 14 percent.
“Obesity can be ‘socially contagious,’ which in some instances can mean the weight gain of a family member or friend can make people feel a bit less guilty and threatened about admitting their own weight gain, and more comfortable acknowledging it,” said Dr. Michael Mantell, ACE Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences. “When you compare yourself to a general, more anonymous public, it’s easier to feel ‘I’m not as bad as they are,’ or ‘I don’t have it as bad as they do,’ but taking a look at your close circle creates more openness to recognizing one’s weight issues.”
Further, almost three in four adults (71 percent) overestimate the weekly recommended amount of physical activity—which could be demotivating or lead to quicker burnout. According to the CDC, adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each week; 71 percent of respondents thought it was more and 27 percent thought it was double the actual amount (5 hours).
“At Anytime Fitness, we’re committed to helping real people overcome barriers to health, and that includes staying connected to what people are thinking and feeling with regard to fitness,” said Stacy Anderson, Chief Marketing Officer of Anytime Fitness. “Our ‘Weight of the Union’ survey revealed a surprising tendency to underestimate one’s weight compared to others, while overestimating what it takes to get in shape. This combination is ultimately a motivation killer, holding Americans back from living healthier lives. Our people at Anytime Fitness can help anyone take small steps that can make a big difference in their health.”
Additional noteworthy findings from the survey include:
- The dangers of sitting are still a mystery to many – 68 percent of adults falsely believe active people can sit for longer periods of time without increasing their risk of obesity.
- Eight out of ten (82%) adults underestimate the amount of time spent on moderate exercise before consuming a sports drink is healthy.
- Almost three out of four adults (73 percent) want to increase their current activity level.
Anytime Fitness is the world’s fastest-growing gym franchise, and was recently ranked No. 1 on Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Franchise 500® list. Anytime Fitness was also named “One of America’s Most Promising Companies” by Forbes last year, honored by Chief Executive magazine with its inaugural “Leadership” award, and named the “Best Place to Work” by Minnesota Business magazine two years in a row.