Mirror, mirror …

Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, so the qualitative lines blur on what is considered normal weight.

An August 2010 Harris Interactive/HealthyDay poll found that 30 percent of overweight people believed they were normal size. Moreover, 70 percent of obese people felt they were merely overweight, including 39 percent who were morbidly obese. Interviewers asked respondents for their height and weight to calculate an accurate body mass index (BMI). Interviewers then asked them to describe whether they were obese, overweight or normal size.

“While there are some people who have body images in line with their actual BMI, 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 don’t recognize the problem or don’t recognize the severity of the problem, they are less likely to do something about it.”

More said excess weight is an exercise problem, rather than a food problem. Even though exercise has little impact on weight loss, 6 of 10 respondents believed their excess weight is a result of lack of exercise. About half that many – including only 27 percent of the morbidly obese – said they ate more than they should “in general.”

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