A recent survey studied Americans’ perceptions of healthy weight and heart health as part of an education program for American Heart Month.
Heart disease is the number one killer in America. About 40% of Americans are obese, but few recognize the relationship between healthy weight and other harmful health conditions. The Cleveland Clinic recently conducted a survey to determine Americans’ perceptions of heart health as part of celebrating February as American Heart Month.
The survey was conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, which was rated as the number one hospital in cardiology and heart surgery in the United States in 2018 to 2019. The survey was conducted online by Research Now during late September 2018. The survey polled 1002 American adults over the age of 18.
Most participants did not realize the connection between weight and health conditions
The results highlighted many interesting facts about what Americans think about healthy weight. It found that 74% of those polled are worried about their weight, but are not sure what foods they should eat to maintain a healthy weight. Although they understand there is a connection between their health and their weight, most are not aware what type of diet is best for them. They also are not aware that artificial sweeteners are not actually a good way to lose weight.
Most participants also did not realize the connection between weight and specific health conditions, such as cancer, abnormal heart rhythm, coronary artery disease, and stroke. More than half did not realize the link between bad cholesterol and obesity.
The chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland, Steven Nissen, M.D. said in the press release, “Most Americans understand abstractly that being overweight or obese is not good for your health, but it seems we are not grasping that the leading causes of death and disability – stroke, cancer, coronary artery disease – are all adversely affected by increased weight.”
The survey also found that 84% of participants had tried to lose weight in the past, but 30% had stuck with the program for a month or less. Two reasons cited for quitting were a dislike of exercise and lack of time.
Many Americans believe their metabolism is working against them in their quest to reach a healthy weight. This is true because the body makes it harder to lose the extra weight once it has been put on. This makes it difficult to lose weight quickly, which leads to many quitting when the desired results are not achieved.
Even though more than half of the participants were either worried about someone’s health due to their weight, or were aware that they needed to lose weight, outside pressure did not help them to do this. In fact, 65% of baby boomers responded negatively to others advising them to aim for a healthy weight.
Patients should speak to their physicians about heart health and healthy weight
The survey results are useful in pointing out the best way to lose weight. Patients should talk to their doctor not just about nutrition, but also about heart health in relationship to their weight. When the doctor is aware of the patient’s desire to lose weight, they can design a weight loss program that will lead to a healthy weight that can be maintained.
Written by Rebecca K. Blankenship, B.Sc.
- Americans concerned about weight, but don’t understand link to heart conditions, health. EurekAlert!. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-01/cc-aca012819.php. Published 2019. Accessed February 16, 2019.
- February is American Heart Month – healthfinder.gov. Healthfinder.gov. https://healthfinder.gov/nho/februarytoolkit.aspx. Published 2019. Accessed February 16, 2019.
- U.S. News Announces 2018-19 Best Hospitals. U.S. News & World Report. https://www.usnews.com/info/blogs/press-room/articles/2018-08-14/us-news-announces-2018-19-best-hospitals. Published 2019. Accessed February 16, 2019.