If you’re reading this now, you may be among the 80 percent of Americans who believe that too much television and computer time are the most significant reasons America is the most obese industrialized country in the world.
Americans also cite inexpensive and easy access to fast food, as well as a lack desire or knowledge about how to control their weight as other major factors contributing to growing U.S. waistlines, according to a report released last weekend from The Associated Press highlighting the major findings of a survey, “Obesity in the United States: Public Perception of Causes, Solutions, and Consequences.”
The study was conducted Nov. 21-Dec. 14, 2012, by the AP and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago. Researchers conducted telephone interviews with 1,011 adults age 18 or older. The study had an overall margin of error of +/- 4.2 percent.
The fact that Americans intuitively believe they spend a lot of time on the Internet is backed by data. According to a 2008 report from American think tank OTX, eating took second place to Internet use among evening activities in half the households questioned. Youth are electronically obsessed, with the average person 8-18 spending more than 7.5 hours a day using smart phones, computers, television or other electronic devices, according to a 2010 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
How does Facebook factor in? The average American spends about seven hours a month on Facebook, according to 2010 data from the Nielsen Co.
The more time Americans spend in sedentary electronic or online activity means they have less time for movement. And it’s taking its toll. Research shows almost one in three Americans is obese and two in three are overweight or obese. Data also shows the United States is the most obese developed country in the world, followed by Mexico.
The AP-NORC findings relating to perceived Internet use was only one of several topline findings from the report. Another major finding revealed that although Americans believe the country's fast-food obsession is helping fuel obesity, the country shows little desire for government regulation that would curb fast food or other unhealthy food choices. Ninety five percent of those surveyed believed that obese people face some level of discrimination because of their weight.