At Least Our Gluttons Are Eating Humble Pie

It often seems that people’s default reaction to any disappointment is to blame (if not sue) someone else for it. How surprising, then, to see Americans taking at least some of the responsibility for their weight gains. A poll commissioned by Context Marketing found 77 percent of respondents saying food and beverage companies “should not be held legally responsible for making Americans overweight.” Even more of them—90 percent—subscribed to the statement, “I am responsible for what I eat and how it affects my health.” Still, 41 percent of respondents agreed that advertising “causes us to eat more than we should.” (Let’s consider this a tribute to advertising’s effectiveness.) The pace of modern life is also a contributing factor to people’s imprudent diets, with 27 percent saying, “I am so busy I eat what I can, when I can.” The more basic problem, though, is that food is just so darn tempting. As you can see from the chart, a large majority of respondents view eating as one of the things that make life worth living. Although 54 percent consider themselves overweight, and 59 percent are “concerned” about their weight, just 44 percent said they “worry about how much I eat.” And fewer still (26 percent) answered affirmatively when asked, “Do you consider yourself a dieter?” To the extent that fast food aggravates the obesity epidemic, it’s a factor likely to abate as the population ages. Among people 55 and older, half said they eat at fast-food outlets “less than once a month, if ever.”