Global Poll: Weight Struggles Worldwide

January 11/Pleasantville, N.Y./PRNewswire -- Reader's Digest unveils results of its exclusive global diet poll in the February issue, on newsstands January 15, 2010. What country diets the most? Which one thinks being overweight is no big deal? Which country pops the most diet pills? Who's to blame for the global obesity epidemic? The issue delves into the research and delivers some surprising findings.

The U.S. surpasses other countries in women who want their husbands to lose pounds; it is also the country where women struggle the most with their weight. However, diet pills and smoking to control weight are not as prevalent as in other countries, but a solid 85% of American women have tried to lose weight at least once in their lives. Ironically, nearly 70% of American women believe our culture is overly focused on weight.

Reader's Digest commissioned an exclusive global poll, interviewing approximately 16,000 people in 16 countries about their attitudes and behaviors about weight, weight loss, and obesity. It also offers a potent diet plan that incorporates tips from around the world.

Reader's Digest vice president/globaly editor-in-chief Peggy Northrop says, "Our poll makes it clear that people around the world are struggling with their weight, but the news isn't all bad -- we also found that just about every culture has some custom that can help keep you lean and healthy. We need to look at ourselves and our neighbors to see what works in this worldwide struggle."

Brazil feels the most pressure to be thin. The survey found that 83% of Brazilians think there is too much emphasis placed on weight, with 77% of men and 89% of women feeling the pressure. Comparatively, 62% of Americans think we care too much about weight, ranking third behind Brazil and India (68%) in this category.

Wives in the U.S. want their husbands to lose weight. More than half (51%) of married American women wish their husbands weighed less, while 47% of married American men desire the same of their mates. In India, 48% of Indian men admit to being dissatisfied with their spouse's weight; 46% of Indian women feel the same.

When it comes to popping diet pills, China ranks number one, with 37% of the Chinese admitting that they take weight loss pills. Brazil (30%), Russia (24%), and Mexico (23%) also look to pills, while only 19% of the U.S. do.

Russia is the country where people try to puff away the pounds, with 23% of men and 18% of women admitting they smoke to suppress appetite. In the U.S., a mere 5% say they light up to lose weight.

The country most likely to blame its fat on a lack of willpower: the Philippines. Approximately half of Americans feel the same, and where do people blame their parents for being fat? Russia. An amazing 70% of Russians point to their genes as the reason they need larger jeans. Germans (61%) and Indians (50%) also use this excuse. In the U.S., 20% of Americans blame mom and dad.

More than any people surveyed, the French point to American eating habits and fast food as the culprits in their nation's growing girth. Almost three quarters of Americans admit their way of eating promotes obesity.

Mexico leads the way as the country with the healthiest approach to losing weight. Almost all (93%) Mexicans say they have tried switching to a more healthful diet in an attempt to lose weight, and 86% have tried to become more physically active. In the U.S., 86% of Americans have tried to eat healthier, and 75% have attempted to work out; however, 61% still resort to dietary deprivation (compared with 55% of Mexicans).

The U.S. is also concerned with weight being an obstacle to sex, with 46% of Americans (51% of men and 41% of women) saying that fat foils frolicking.

Complete results can be found at

From the January 18, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition