Surveys of Americans: I'm fat, I smoke, it's my fault

With the end-of-year-weight-gain season upon us, several groups have released surveys about Americans fatness, fitness -- or lack thereof -- and what the country, its businesses, and the overweight/underfit should do about it.

With the end-of-year-weight-gain season upon us, several groups have released surveys about Americans fatness, fitness -- or lack thereof -- and what the country, its businesses, and the overweight/underfit should do about it.

One group actually compiled feedback from 400 respondents to a web survey and found that those people, two of three whom called themselves obese or overweight, blamed lack of education, lack of personal responsibility, not exercising enough, and lack of self-control when it comes to food.

PlanetFeedback, a provider of online feedback services and marketing analytics, released its findings last month and respondents not only put the blame on themselves and other end-users, but also offered "fixes" for businesses to help with the problem. The company will offer a web-based seminar on its findings and fixes on Dec. 12, 4-5 p.m. Eastern time. To find out more or register, go to: and click on "America at Large -- Literally." The first seminar on the topic last month attracted attendees from fitness clubs, non-profit groups, PR agencies and, of course, food companies.

Top suggestions from PlanetFeedback respondents included ones about both fitness and good nutrition: Tax breaks for fast-food chains that offer nutritious foods, more informative nutrition labels on all foods, more physical activity/exercise in all schools, more nutrition information on food/restaurant websites, ban food/beverage company sponsorship in schools.

Other comments about exercise included suggestions for: One-hour mandatory exercise breaks at work, more physical education/exercise/cooking/home economics classes in schools, more fun ways to exercise, and to make gyms more accessible to lower-income people -- maybe a county gym, like a county library.

"These results are significant because they were voiced by consumers who are highly opinionated, meaning they typically influence the attitudes and perceptions of other consumers," said Pete Blackshaw, chief marketing officer, PlanetFeedback.

Another survey last month found that workers in the United States said he or she were overweight, smoked and didn't exercise -- but believed he or she were in great health. This was found by Oxford Health Plans.

Yet another one by AOL Interactive reported that seven of 10 Americans who responded to its poll said they were prepared to be on an diet and exercise program, but only 12 percent said they would like to start an "exercise-only" program.

Oh, and for the record -- that folklore about people gaining five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's? (Sometimes pushed to as much as eight pounds.) It's myth. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000 found that subjects had an average weight gain between October and February of 0.48 pounds. But -- here's the catch -- that small bit isn't lost before the next holiday season, leading authors to conclude that holiday weight gain is cumulative and only feels like five pounds in one season.

SNEWS View: Boy, we do like that idea of a "county gym" where people could go for less money. It won't make gyms broke. I mean, lots of people still go buy books instead of check them out at the library. We think these suggestions could make great fodder for companies all around to consider.


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