Not only are Americans overweight, but folks actually believe they are leaner than the numbers on the scale show, according to recent results of a Harris Interactive and HealthDay poll.

For the survey, researchers asked 2,418 participants, ages 18 and older, to reveal their height and weight. Pollsters then used the information to compute their body mass index (BMI), a calculation using height and weight measurements to figure how much fat the body is carrying.

Next, researchers asked participants to say in what weight class they fit. The results were interesting.

Pollsters found 30 percent of overweight participants thought they were normal-sized and 70 percent of obese individuals believed they were just overweight. In addition, among morbidly obese participants, nearly 60 percent thought they were just obese and 39 percent believed they were simply overweight.

“While there are some people who have body images in line with their actual BMI, for many people they are not, and this may be where part of the problem lies,” said Regina Corso, vice president of Harris Poll Solutions.

Obesity is a serious health risk for both adults and children, and overweight and obesity rates are going up, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These poll results suggest that if people don’t recognize the problem or how severe it is, they are less likely to act, Corso said.

The results also showed that of those Americans polled who believed they carried too much weight, most blamed it on laziness-induced inactivity not poor eating habits. And among overweight, obese and morbidly obese poll participants, more than half said they needed to exercise more.

Many Americans also know that obesity is a huge health problem in the United States, Corso said. But they simply find it too difficult to make the necessary lifestyle modifications to get and stay in shape.

“This wake-up call still isn’t ringing as loudly as it should,” Corso said.

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