Poll: Americans Hope to Shed Pounds in New Year

The usual culprits round out the top of the list -- ice cream, cake and pizza. Other frequent mentions include pasta, beer, donuts and french fries. And infrequent answers run the gamut: "cheese fries, bacon, cheese fries, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream," said one excited respondent. Other mentions included "pickled pigs feet," "halvah" and "deer summer sausage." And one gets a pass: "The Lord has taken care of all that; he has made me allergic to all foods that I crave."

Favorite Food Indulgence
  All Men Women
Chocolate   20%   27%   10%
Ice cream   15   15   15
Red meat   9   4   15
Cake/pie   8   10   6
Pizza   8   6   10

Why do people indulge in these treats? Comfort is the main reason. Nearly six in 10 Americans say they turn to these foods for comfort; about a quarter say, instead, that it's as a reward. That includes about equal numbers of men and women.

Overweight Americans are more likely than others to indulge in fattening foods for comfort -- 66 percent do. Indulging as a reward, rather than to soothe, peaks among young adults, at 34 percent; it's only 13 percent among seniors.

Target Areas

What one part of their bodies would Americans like most to firm up? One gentleman called himself a "finely tuned working machine," but almost everyone easily named parts they'd like to improve. The belly gets targeted by a wide majority: Six in 10 say that's where they'd slim down, including equal numbers of men and women.

Among overweight Americans, three-quarters would pick their stomachs to firm first. Even among people who say they're about the right weight, just under half would like to firm their bellies, nonetheless.

The real difference between men and women comes in the second-ranked item: Twenty-two percent of women say their thighs, butts or hips most need slimming. Just one percent of men say the same.

Refreshingly, one percent of men and women alike say they'd most like to firm or tone their brains.

Where to Slim Down
  All Men Women
Stomach/belly/abs   58%   56%   60%
Thighs, butt, hips   12   22   1
Arms   6   5   7
Legs   5   3   8
Waist   4   5   4
Chest/breast   2   1   3
Brain   1   1   1
Everything   1   *   1

Weight Bias

While weight is a broad concern, weight discrimination is not commonly cited. Among all Americans, just seven percent say they've felt discriminated against because of their weight; nine percent say they've felt made fun of or excluded from social activities.

These numbers are somewhat higher among people who describe themselves as overweight: In this group, 13 percent say they've been discriminated against and 15 percent say they've been socially excluded because of their weight. Overweight women are slightly more likely than overweight men to say they've felt discriminated against.

When asked to evaluate their own attitudes, 35 percent of Americans say they have at least some negative feelings about overweight people; it's about the same, 39 percent, among those who are overweight themselves.

New Year's

Making a New Year's resolution has something in common with weight loss -- a lot of people talk about it, but far fewer do it. Indeed the most notable thing about New Year's resolutions is that 65 percent of Americans say they don't make one.

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