According to a 2009 study by the American Heart Association, 30.2 percent of males in America are obese, and 34 percent of females fall into the obese category.
With these statistics, it’s not surprising that many Americans are dieting.
What is surprising is what Americans don’t know about losing weight.
A new study by Cogent Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, aimed to see what consumers knew about weight loss. They interviewed 1,024 consumers 18 and over from April 30 to May 17, 2010.
Only one in every eight Americans knows how many calories he should consume in a day. Since calories are the foundation for weight loss (and gain), the lack of knowledge of what their caloric limit is greatly reduces their chance at weight loss success.
According to an Article on Bloomberg Businessweek, “”There is confusion on all sides of the calorie equation,” said Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, a director with the Washington-based International Food Information Council Foundation, which released the survey today. “They need references for those numbers,” she said in an interview. The group’s educational arm includes representatives from General Mills Inc., Kraft Foods Inc. and Mars Inc.”
The survey also asked respondents whether moderate sugar consumption could be a part of a healthy diet. Only 58 percent of the respondents felt this was true.
49 percent of respondents were trying to consume more protein as part of their weight loss diet plan.
These individuals are obviously reacting to the push for higher-protein fad diets such as the Atkins diet. The tried and true (and highly recommended by dietitians and doctors) low-calorie diet does not limit intake of any particular food, just an overall caloric reduction. However, not knowing calorie limits makes low-calorie dieting impossible.
Bloomberg Newsweek includes the following statistics about the average American: “The average 35-year-old American male stands 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs 191 pounds, while his female counterpart is 5 feet, 4 inches and weighs 164 pounds. To maintain those weights while exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day, the man should consume 3,000 calories, and the woman, 2,200 calories. By government standards, both people are overweight.”
Sadly, all information regarding daily caloric intake needs and dietary requirements is readily available online, in health books, from doctors and from fitness and health workers such as physical trainers and nutritionists. Recommended daily calorie needs are also listed on the nutritional panel on the side of many food items. However, Americans haven’t taken the initiative to look for themselves to see what they are.
What will it take for Americans to know their limits? A push for consumer education comes from the food industry. More information readily available may help Americans to learn their limits. Michelle Obama’s interest in fitness and nutrition may help promote awareness as well.
To calculate your caloric guidelines, visit FreeDieting.
Bloomberg Businessweek: Diet-Driven Americans Can’t Count Calories