Weight Loss

Fat Chance of Staying Slim in the North

Nearly half of Britons believe they are overweight, with northerners more concerned about weight loss than those in the south, a survey revealed today.

Singletons are least likely to be paranoid about their size (29%), while 45% of couples are convinced wedded bliss or living together caused them to pile on the weight. People who eat meals with friends and family also thought they had a better chance of keeping the weight off, rather than munching great banquets alone.

Two complementary studies were commissioned by Herbalife a global provider of weight loss/management products.
One quizzed 5,000 adults in Europe and the US and the other surveyed 1,000 people in the UK. While 42% of Britons believe they are currently overweight, a whopping 62% of Europeans think they are too heavy. The north-south divide continues – 47% of northerners felt overweight or obese and 20% expected to be so in five years’ time, compared to 37% and 16% of southerners respectively. Attitudes towards children ran along similar lines, with 15% of northerners thinking their child was overweight, compared to 9% of those in the south. Despite concerns, Britons were considered the most optimistic in Europe, with only 17% believing they would be overweight in five years compared to 36% of Europeans. One in 10 attributed weight gain to life-changing events such as getting married. Americans were even more concerned about their size, with 74% believing they were overweight compared to 62% of Europeans. More than a quarter (26%) of those State-side thought they were more than 20% over the ideal weight compared to 14% of Europeans. As for their children, 16% of Americans considered their offspring overweight compared to 12% of Europeans.

Dr David Heber, of the Centre for Human Nutrition at the University of California in Los Angeles, and chairman of Herbalife’s Scientific Advisory Board, said: “Regardless of how respondents in each country approach diet and exercise, most report themselves to be overweight right now.

“It also appears that Europeans, including Britons, are following the US lead in becoming heavier and in believing themselves to be overweight.” He went on: “One reason for universal weight gain is the migration away from shared meals – most of the survey respondents report eating meals less frequently with others – and we know that eating alone can be a factor in weight gain. “A root cause of eating alone is the busier lifestyles we all now lead which have led to drastic changes in our eating habits.”

When it came to attitudes towards food, those in the US blamed larger portions while Europeans attributed weight gain to unhealthy food. In the UK, a balanced diet and exercise were seen as key to weight loss, whereas snacking and laziness were described as the biggest hurdles. Europeans were found to snack less after dinner than their American counterparts, while people in the US were less likely to eat breakfast.

The survey also found Americans stuck more rigidly to prescribed diets such as Atkins and were more carbohydrate-focused than Europeans. Stress was regularly blamed for piling on the pounds, with 16% of Britons predicting weight gain over the next five years would be caused by stress.

The larger international study was conducted by AC Nielsen, a marketing information company, for the Herbalife Nutritional Trends Index and looked at causes and trends of obesity as well at attitudes to food, exercise and weight loss.

It was backed up by the market information group Taylor Nelson’s Omnibus study carried out in Britain.
By: Caroline Gammell, PA News

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