Anytime Fitness Research Reveals Americans See A Growing Obesity Problem – But Not When They Look In The Mirror

This press release was provided by Anytime Fitness. The Club Industry editorial staff was not involved in the creation of this content.

More than one-third of American adults today are obese according to The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, but a new survey from Anytime Fitness finds that most people don't think they are part of the problem—and those who do want to get healthier may be setting themselves up for failure from the start.

The fitness club chain's annual 'Weight of the Union' survey found that although almost nine out of ten adults surveyed (84% percent) believe Americans generally weigh more now than they did five years ago, 56 percent of overweight respondents and 30 percent of obese respondents felt they were at normal weights compared to the general American public. 

However, staying closer to home led to a more accurate assessment of BMI. When asked to compare themselves to family and friends, the number of overweight people who felt they were at a normal weight dropped to 45 percent. The number of obese respondents who felt they were at a normal weight dropped even more drastically, to just 14 percent.

"Obesity can be 'socially contagious,' which in some instances can mean the weight gain of a family member or friend can make people feel a bit less guilty and threatened about admitting their own weight gain, and more comfortable acknowledging it," said Dr. Michael Mantell, ACE Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences. "When you compare yourself to a general, more anonymous public, it's easier to feel 'I'm not as bad as they are,' or 'I don't have it as bad as they do,' but taking a look at your close circle creates more openness to recognizing one's weight issues."

Further, almost three in four adults (71 percent) overestimate the weekly recommended amount of physical activity—which could be demotivating or lead to quicker burnout. According to the CDC, adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each week; 71 percent of respondents thought it was more and 27 percent thought it was double the actual amount (5 hours).

"At Anytime Fitness, we're committed to helping real people overcome barriers to health, and that includes staying connected to what people are thinking and feeling with regard to fitness," said Stacy Anderson, Chief Marketing Officer of Anytime Fitness. "Our 'Weight of the Union' survey revealed a surprising tendency to underestimate one's weight compared to others, while overestimating what it takes to get in shape.  This combination is ultimately a motivation killer, holding Americans back from living healthier lives.  Our people at Anytime Fitness can help anyone take small steps that can make a big difference in their health."

Additional noteworthy findings from the survey include:

  • The dangers of sitting are still a mystery to many – 68 percent of adults falsely believe active people can sit for longer periods of time without increasing their risk of obesity.
  • Eight out of ten (82%) adults underestimate the amount of time spent on moderate exercise before consuming a sports drink is healthy.
  • Almost three out of four adults (73 percent) want to increase their current activity level.

Anytime Fitness is the world's fastest-growing gym franchise, and was recently ranked No. 1 on Entrepreneur magazine's annual Franchise 500® list.  Anytime Fitness was also named "One of America's Most Promising Companies" by Forbes last year, honored by Chief Executive magazine with its inaugural "Leadership" award, and named the "Best Place to Work" by Minnesota Business magazine two years in a row.

Survey Methodology:  The 2014 Anytime Fitness Weight of the Union survey was as an online qualitative survey with a national sample of 1,000 adults (18 years of age and older) to identify lifestyle habits regarding physical activity, knowledge of the importance and benefits of daily activity, basic knowledge of exercise and physical activity, and perceptions of body mass and weight. The study was conducted using Research Now's opt-in, online consumer panel; the U.S. consumer panel has approximately 3 million members. The survey data was collected between November 14 and 20, 2013, and quotas were set by gender, age and region of the country so the final sample of consumers approximates U.S. census data on these variables.  

Anytime Fitness / Weight of the Union blog:  http://bit.ly/wotu14

About Anytime Fitness

Founded in 2002, Anytime Fitness is the fastest-growing gym franchise in the world, with more than 2,300 gyms serving nearly 2,000,000 members on five continents. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Anytime Fitness prides itself on providing its members with convenient and affordable fitness options in friendly, well-maintained facilities which feature top-quality exercise equipment. Gyms are now open in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, Grand Cayman, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, Qatar, India, Chile, Japan and Singapore.  All franchised gyms are individually owned and operated.  Join one gym and use them all.  Members also enjoy free access to AnytimeHealth.com, the most comprehensive wellness website available.

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