Many People Unable to Recognize Need to Slim Down

Threshold at which overweight people perceive need to lose weight has risen dramatically

TUESDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- The threshold at which overweight people perceive their weight to be cause for concern has risen dramatically over the past eight years, according to the results of a U.K. study published online July 10 in BMJ Online First.

F. Johnson and colleagues at University College London in London, U.K., conducted two population surveys, one of 853 men and 944 women in 1999 and the other of 847 men and 989 women in 2007, in which respondents were asked to report their weight and height and what they classified themselves as on a scale from very underweight to obese.

There was a dramatic increase in self-reported weight from 1999 to 2007, and also a raising of the threshold beyond which people described themselves as overweight. Whereas 81 percent of overweight respondents to the 1999 survey correctly identified themselves, only 75 percent of those overweight did so in the 2007 survey, the researchers report.

"Despite media and health campaigns aiming to raise awareness of healthy weight, increasing numbers of overweight people fail to recognize that their weight is a cause for concern," the authors write. "This makes it less likely that they will see calls for weight control as personally relevant.

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