There is quite widespread recognition of what are the main causes of being overweight. The majority (79%) agree that ‘’most people who are overweight have put on weight because they eat too much”.
While the same proportion (80%) agree that, ‘’most people who are overweight have put on weight because they exercise too little’’.
Seventy-two percent agree with both statements. When asked which it is more important for someone trying to lose extra weight to do: “eating a healthier diet” or; “doing more physical activity”, 88% say that the two are equally important.
Meanwhile, although those with lower levels of educational attainment are less likely to recognise some of the health risks of obesity, they are no less likely than anyone else to identify diet and exercise as the principal factors contributing to being overweight.
Most respondents disagree with two other possible causes of obesity. Firstly, 57% disagree that ‘’being overweight is something you inherit from your parents”, while 25% agree and 17% neither agree nor disagree.
Secondly, 52% disagree that ‘’most overweight people have put on weight because of low metabolism”, while 28% agree and 20% neither agree nor disagree.
However, while there is no link between educational attainment and the perceived role of inheritance in the likelihood of being overweight, those with no educational qualifications (35%) are more likely than graduates (21%) to say that being overweight is mostly the product of a low metabolism.
Meanwhile, men are more likely than women to agree with both statements; 28% of men think that being overweight is inherited compared with 20% of women, and 30% think that it is mostly linked to a low metabolism (23% of women).
It is widely recognised, then, that obesity is risky for health, though some of the risks are more widely recognised than others – particularly among those with lower levels of educational attainment.
For the most part, people are also aware of what are the main causes of obesity.
Nevertheless, to some degree at least, there is a common inclination to accept being overweight, while many overestimate what ‘obesity’ looks like in terms of body size.
Acceptance of being overweight seems to be particularly common among men, a phenomenon that may well be linked to the fact that obesity in men is also less likely to be recognised as such (while men are also more inclined to blame being overweight on a “low metabolism”).
At the same time, recognition of being overweight does not appear to be helped by the fact that both men and women are inclined to overestimate their height and/or underestimate their weight.
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