I’ve just gotten through reading a new survey detailing how women feel about the “O” word — obesity — as it relates to themselves, their children, family and friends. The good news is that most women agree that obesity is a major issue. This survey was unique because it’s woman-centric, updating us about how women currently view the impact of obesity on their daily lives.
The online survey was conducted within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the national non-profit association HealthyWomen. From August 24-26, 2010, 1,037 women ages 18 and older participated. After reviewing the survey results, a number of disconnects began to emerge. Here are some highlights from the survey:
1. Although 87 percent of women believe that there is a parental role in the cycle of obesity, only 28 percent assign any responsibility to themselves. Fifty-seven percent believed that a mother and father have equal influence on their child’s potential for obesity.
Reality: Research shows that a mother’s obesity has a much great impact than a father’s on their child at all ages. Mom’s are still primarily in charge of grocery shopping and meal preparation. Kids tend to emulate their moms’ eating patterns.
2. One in 10 women surveyed recognized that if she were obese in her first trimester, her obesity more than doubles her child’s risk of becoming obese. Forty-six percent of women didn’t know if there was a mother-child obesity connection in pregnancy and 11 percent felt there was no connection at all.
Reality: Research from Harvard Medical School shows that the more weight a woman gains while pregnant, the greater the child’s chances are of being overweight by the age of three. Currently, one in five women is obese at the time of her baby’s conception, which translates into 1.3 million annually.
3. Eighty percent of women believe that outside relationships can influence their becoming obese. Seventy-two percent believe an obese family member can affect their obesity risk. Sixty percent think that a spouse or partner will significantly impact on their becoming obese or not. Less than one in three believes an obese friend can influence their weight.
Reality: Research shows that a woman has a greater chance of becoming obese if her friend does. There is a less effect for sibling or spouse.
4. While 97 percent of women knew that obesity is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, only:
a) Thirty percent knew that it was also associated with gallstones and infertility;
b) Twenty-five percent knew it could increase the risk of colon and breast cancer;
c) And, only 13 percent knew about the obesity-uterine cancer connection.
The bottom line from this survey is that all women need to embrace and integrate these new facts into a “new normal” attitude about healthy lifestyles.
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