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Americans think they’re healthier than they actually are, according to a new survey from Chicago-based market research firm Mintel.
While the survey found that seven in 10 respondents (71 percent) believe themselves to in excellent or good health, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions’ Connected Care reports that 100 million Americans suffer from such chronic health conditions as heart disease, diabetes or hypertension.
Additionally, people appear to be in denial about their weight. Just 25 percent of survey respondents said they are obese or overweight or have been diagnosed as such. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), though, two-thirds (67 percent) fall into these categories. Mintel calculated the body mass index (BMI) of survey respondents for a separate report on obesity and also found that 65 percent of people are overweight or obese.
“The challenge clearly lies in getting Americans to accept and admit that their health isn’t optimal,” noted Krista Faron, senior analyst at Mintel. “Right now, we say one thing, but then our actions contradict those perceptions and best intentions. All companies, from health care to food, need to get adults who are at risk or ill to recognize their issues, accept responsibility and make lifestyle changes.”
Mintel found 70 percent of adults think they should exercise more. Fewer than two in five (37 percent) say they exercise regularly, and half of those (48 percent) work out only twice a week or less. The CDC recommends moderate aerobic activity for 150 minutes a week, in addition to two days of muscle-strengthening exercises.
The split between perceived health and actual behavior is also apparent in attitudes to food. Two-thirds of Mintel respondents (65 percent) said they “try to eat healthier food these days,” but nearly the same percentage (59 percent) said they eat foods they like “regardless of calories.” Similarly, just over half (52 percent) said they’re dieting, but almost the same number (45 percent) thought they often overeat.
“People have lofty, admirable goals of eating healthier, exercising more and treating their bodies better,” said Faron. “Our research suggests, though, that implementation of these goals is challenging. Many people need help and guidance to understand where their health is lacking and how they can improve it.”
The desire to be healthier certainly came out in the Mintel survey: About half of survey respondents (51 percent) considered it “very important” to live a healthy lifestyle, while another four in 10 (39 percent) deemed it “somewhat important.”