It isn't stop-the-presses news that many Americans are gaining weight. What's striking is the degree to which weight gain is the norm in all sorts of demographic niches, including ones you'd expect to be slim. Recent Gallup polling tells the tale.
Among adults who describe their diet as "not healthy," those who've gained weight during the past five years outnumber those who've lost weight by 50 percent to 12 percent. The numbers aren't much different for those with a "somewhat healthy" diet, with gainers outnumbering losers by 47 percent to 16 percent. Here's the surprise, though: While the margin is smaller among those with a "very healthy" diet, even this cohort has more gainers than losers (33 percent vs. 27 percent). Likewise, among Gallup respondents who term their health "excellent," there are nearly three times as many weight-gainers as losers (40 percent vs. 14 percent). As for education, college graduates are somewhat less likely than high-school-or-less adults to be weight-gainers (40 percent vs. 50 percent), but no more likely to be losers (17 percent of both groups). Popular wisdom to the contrary, there aren't dramatic differences among various income groups.
It would be nice to suppose the nation's weight problem partly stems from its growing number of elderly people—i.e., folks who are entitled to be sedentary. However, the poll's 65-and-older respondents had a below-average proportion of weight gainers—36 percent, vs. 42 percent of the 18-29s and 47 percent of both the 30-49 and 50-64 brackets.