Fat is the new norm

For many Americans fat is the new "norm." More and more people are unable to accurately describe themselves using their height-to-weight ratio - known as body mass index - the scale that determines levels of overweight and obesity, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll of 2,418 adults conducted online Aug. 17-18 found.

The poll revealed that 30 percent of overweight people think they're actually normal size, 70 percent of obese people feel they are merely overweight, and 39 percent of morbidly obese people think they are overweight but not obese.

"While there are some people who have body images in line with their actual BMI [body mass index], for many people they are not, and this may be where part of the problem lies," said Regina Corso, vice president of Harris Poll Solutions. "If they do not recognize the problem or don't recognize the severity of the problem, they are less likely to do something about it."

Among other findings: Most respondents who felt they were heavier than they should be blamed lack of exercise as the main cause, with 52 percent of overweight people, 75 percent of obese people and 75 percent of morbidly obese people saying they didn't exercise enough. Food consumption was seen as the lesser of two culprits, with 36 percent of overweight respondents, 48 percent of obese respondents and 27 percent of those morbidly obese feeling they ate more than they "should in general." Respondents said weight loss interventions, such as surgery and diet-pills are the most effective for losing weight.

"Americans like the quick fix and that's what they think the surgery is even though there are so many other things that work," Corso said. "The American public knows this but it's hard and it's something that they're not quite ready to do. This wake-up call still isn't ringing as loudly as it could."

www.harrisinteractive.com