Why Fewer Americans Say They Want to Lose Weight

Two women with different waist sizes
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Americans today are less likely to say they want to lose weight, compared to those surveyed a decade ago, according to a new poll.

The poll, from Gallup, found that an average of 53 percent of American adults who were polled between 2010 and 2016 said that they wanted to lose weight. That's down from an average of 59 percent who said that they wanted to lose weight in polls done from 2000 to 2009.

What's more, the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as overweight has also decreased in recent decades. In the 1990s, 44 percent of Americans said that they were overweight, compared to 41 percent in the 2000s and 37 percent in the years 2010 to 2016, Gallup said.

The findings seem to be in contrast to other data that show that obesity rates are rising in the United States. Over the past 15 years, the nation's obesity rate rose from 30.5 percent in the years 1999 to 2000, to 37.7 percent in 2013 to 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The reason for the findings is not clear, but Gallup also found that Americans' perception of their ideal weight is changing. Americans surveyed in the 1990s said that their ideal weight was 153 lbs., on average. But in polls that were done in the 2000s, the average ideal weight was 159 lbs., and in polls done in 2010 to 2016, it was 161 lbs., Gallup said. [Lose Weight Smartly: 7 Little-Known Tricks That Shave Pounds]

"The benchmark for their ideal weight continues to be set higher," Gallup said.

Previously, Gallup reported that in 2015, 49 percent of Americans said that they wanted to lose weight, marking the first time in at least 25 years that less than half of Americans said that they wanted to lose weight.

Original article on Live Science.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.