Americans Falsely Believe Their Diet Is Healthy

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Although few track their weight, when they were asked to self-report their weight, four in 10 were off-track.
Thomas Northcut/Photodisc

THE GIST

- Nine in 10 Americans may be under the illusion that their diet is healthy.

- One in three adults is obese, and losing weight is the second most popular new year's resolution this year after quitting smoking.

Nine in 10 Americans say their diet is healthy but only a quarter limit the amount of fat or sugar they eat, and two-thirds don't eat enough fruit and vegetables, a poll published Tuesday found.

"Americans tend to give themselves high marks for healthy eating, but when we asked how many sugary drinks, fatty foods, and fruits and veggies they consumed, we found that their definition of healthy eating was questionable," said Nancy Metcalf of Consumer Reports Health, which conducted the poll.

Of the 1,234 American adults polled, 89.7 percent said their diet was "somewhat" (52.6 percent), "very" (31.5 percent), or "extremely" healthy (5.6 percent).

But 43 percent of the survey respondents said they drank at least one sugary soda or other sweetened drink every day, and just one in four said they limited sweets, sugars or fats in their diet, the poll conducted in early November found.

Four in 10 Americans said they ate "pretty much everything" or "mostly everything" that they wanted, the poll found.

Few count calories or weigh themselves, but when they were asked to self-report their weight, four in 10 were off-track.

A third said they were at a healthy weight when they actually had a body mass index (BMI) of an overweight or obese person, while eight percent thought they were overweight or obese, but their BMIs suggested they were not.

One in three adults is obese, and losing weight is the second most popular new year's resolution this year after quitting smoking, according to a poll published last week by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

Three in 10 Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports said they eat five or more servings of fresh fruit or vegetables daily, as recommended by health officials.

When they were asked why they didn't eat more vegetables, the most common reason given by the poll respondents was that they thought they consumed enough already.

The next most commonly cited reason for not eating the recommended amount of veggies was that they are hard to store or spoil too quickly -- an excuse given by 29 percent of Americans.

Seventeen percent said someone in their household didn't like vegetables, the same number said vegetables take too long to prepare or are too difficult to prepare, and 14 percent said fresh vegetables are too expensive.

Thirteen percent said, quite simply, they don't like vegetables.

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