Does This Country Make Me Look Fat?

OK, as we continue into 2010, we’ve all got just about the same New Year’s resolution, whether we’ve admitted it or not: lose weight. Maybe lose that holiday weight, maybe lose more than that, but, nonetheless, lose some weight.

But did you realize that where you live might be impacting how you feel about weight? We just got the results of a new poll (commissioned by Reader’s Digest) of 16,000 people conducted by Synovate’s Global Omnibus. The results will be unveiled in the February issue of Reader’s Digest, hitting the newsstands January 15, 2010. The results are surprising:

  • The U.S. surpasses other countries in women who want their husbands to lose pounds; it’s also the country where women struggle the most with their weight. However, diet pills and smoking to control weight are not as prevalent as in other countries, but a solid 85% of American women have tried to lose weight at least once in their lives. Ironically, nearly 70% of American women believe our culture is overly focused on weight.
  • Brazil feels the most pressure to be thin. The survey found that 83% of Brazilians think there is too much emphasis placed on weight, with 77% of men and 89% of women feeling the pressure.
  • Comparatively, 62% of Americans think we care too much about weight, ranking third behind Brazil and India (68%) in this category.
  • Wives in the U.S. want their husbands to lose weight. More than half (51%) of married American women wish their husbands weighed less, while 47% of married American men desire the same of their mates. In India, 48% of Indian men admit to being dissatisfied with their spouse’s weight; 46% of Indian women feel the same.
  • When it comes to popping diet pills, China ranks number one, with 37% of the Chinese admitting that they take weight loss pills. Brazil (30%), Russia (24%), and Mexico (23%) also look to pills, while only 19% of the U.S. do.
  • Russia is the country where people try to puff away the pounds, with 23% of men and 18% of women admitting they smoke to suppress appetite. In the U.S., a mere 5% say they light up to lose weight.
  • The country most likely to blame its fat on a lack of willpower: the Philippines. Approximately half of Americans feel the same.
  • Where do people blame their parents for being fat? Russia. An amazing 70% of Russians point to their genes as the reason they need larger jeans. Germans (61%) and Indians (50%) also use this excuse. In the U.S., 20% of Americans blame Mom and Dad.
  • More than any people surveyed, the French point to American eating habits and fast food as the culprits in their nation’s growing girth. It’s somewhat reassuring to note that at least the U.S. recognizes and takes responsibility, as almost three quarters of Americans admit our way of eating promotes obesity.
  • Mexico leads the way as the country with the healthiest approach to losing weight. Almost all (93%) Mexicans say they have tried switching to a more healthful diet in an attempt to lose weight, and 86% have tried to become more physically active. In the U.S., 86% of Americans have tried to eat healthier, and 75% have attempted to work out, but 61% still resort to dietary deprivation (compared with 55% of Mexicans).
  • The U.S. is also concerned with weight being an obstacle to sex, with 46% of Americans (51% of men and 41% of women) saying that fat foils frolicking.

The ways residents of different countries choose to lose that weight varies as well. The Reader’s Digest article uncovered the varied cultural habits and customs that can keep people slim and healthy:

  • Thailand believes in spicy food. Hot peppers raise your metabolism and burn a few extra calories.
  • Switzerland recommends muesli, a cereal that’s full of fiber and made with oats, nuts, and fruit, each of which has been linked to better health and weight control.
  • Brazil enjoys rice and beans with almost every meal, and research has found that this lowers the risk of becoming overweight by 14% when compared with typical Western fare.
  • The Dutch down about 85 million raw herring a year. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • For India, Finland, and the Netherlands, exercise is an integral ingredient, with yoga, walking, and biking, respectively, being key to weight management.

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