Weight Control: A National Obsession

November 19, 1982

Report Outline
Dieting and Health
Standards of Beauty
Weight Control Methods
Special Focus

Dieting and Health

For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a time for celebration, a day to spend with family and friends. It is also an excuse to stuff ourselves with turkey, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and other traditional treats. Nothing is wrong, of course, with occasional holiday binging. But for many, overeating is a daily temptation.

The number of Americans who are overweight is largely a matter of conjecture, since experts disagree on how fat is too fat. One set of standards that has gained wide acceptance for correlating weight with height, sex and age was devised by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. Using this guideline, 46 percent of adult Americans are at least 10 percent overweight. According to another source, 15 percent of adult men and 25 percent of adult women are 20 percent or more overweight.

Few overweight people are happy with the situation. Americans spend over $10 billion a year trying to lose weight and keep it off. At any given moment an estimated 20 million persons are thought to be on a “serious” diet. For years best-seller lists have been dominated by books by the latest diet and exercise gurus. Not surprisingly, when The San Francisco Chronicle asked 500 people what they feared most, 190 of them said “getting fat.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Nutrition and Health
Jul. 07, 2017  Hunger in America
Oct. 30, 2015  Dietary Supplements
Aug. 08, 2014  Global Hunger
Oct. 01, 2010  Preventing Obesity
Apr. 07, 2006  Rising Health Costs
Feb. 10, 2006  Eating Disorders Updated
Sep. 03, 2004  Dietary Supplements
Jan. 31, 2003  Obesity Epidemic
Feb. 23, 2001  Diet and Health
Jan. 15, 1999  Obesity and Health
Sep. 26, 1997  Youth Fitness
Apr. 14, 1995  Dieting and Health
Jul. 08, 1994  Dietary Supplements
Dec. 18, 1992  Eating Disorders
Nov. 06, 1992  Physical Fitness
Jul. 31, 1992  Infant Mortality
Oct. 25, 1991  World Hunger
Mar. 16, 1990  Public-Health Campaigns: Do They Go Too Far?
Apr. 29, 1988  How America Eats
Sep. 06, 1985  Anorexia and Other Eating Disorders
May 18, 1984  Dining in America
Aug. 26, 1983  Staying Healthy
Nov. 19, 1982  Weight Control: A National Obsession
Oct. 17, 1980  Caffeine Controversy
Apr. 14, 1978  Physical Fitness Boom
Jun. 17, 1977  Obesity and Health
Feb. 22, 1974  Heart Research
Aug. 01, 1973  Nutrition in America
Dec. 02, 1970  Infant Health
Nov. 15, 1967  Overweight and Health
Aug. 10, 1966  Dental Health
Jul. 13, 1966  Prolongation of Life
May 09, 1962  Outdoor Recreation
Nov. 26, 1958  Dieting and Health
Jul. 13, 1949  Recreation for Millions
May 13, 1941  Nutrition and National Health
Obesity and Weight Control