What Percentage of Americans Consider Themselves Overweight?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Forty-one percent of U.S. adults, on average over the past five years, from 2017 to 2021, have characterized themselves as overweight, while the slight majority (53%) have said their weight is about right and 5% reported they are underweight.

The percentage overweight is up from 36% in the prior five-year period, from 2012-2016, but similar to the rates between 2002 and 2011.

Americans’ Self-Assessments of Their Weight Situation

How would you describe your own personal weight situation right now?

2002-2006 2007-2011 2012-2016 2017-2021
% % % %
Overweight 41 39 36 41
About right 53 55 57 53
Underweight 5 5 6 5
Averages based on aggregated data

Gallup measures the public’s attitudes about their personal weight situations each November as part of its Health and Healthcare poll — one of the surveys that make up the Gallup Poll Social Series.

The findings contrast with federal health statistics that are based on physical measurements, which show that nearly three-quarters of Americans are either overweight or obese. However, the 41% describing themselves as overweight in Gallup surveys is consistent with the latest federal obesity rate of 42%, suggesting that obese people as the government defines them are the ones most likely to self-report being overweight.

In addition to asking respondents if they are overweight, Gallup’s annual healthcare poll tracks U.S. adults’ self-reported current weight, their desire to lose weight, whether they are currently trying to lose weight and what they consider to be their ideal weight.

Americans Have Gotten Heavier

After being fairly stable in each five-year period from 2002 through 2016, Americans’ average self-reported weight for 2017 through 2021 increased by five pounds to 181 pounds.

Both men and women have weighed more, on average, over the past five years than they weighed during any previous period. Men’s weight is up four pounds since 2012-2016 to an average 199 pounds in 2017-2021, while women’s is up six pounds to 163 pounds over the same period.

Americans’ Self-Reported Weight Estimates

What is your approximate current weight?

2002-2006 2007-2011 2012-2016 2017-2021
lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs.
U.S. adults 174 176 176 181
Men 193 194 195 199
Women 154 158 157 163
Averages based on aggregated data

What Percentage of Americans Want to Lose Weight?

The percentage of Americans who want to lose weight has been more variable over the past two decades. The average 55% of U.S. adults who have expressed a desire to lose weight between 2017 and 2021 is up slightly from the previous five-year period (52%), in line with the 2007 through 2011 reading (57%) and slightly lower than the 2002-2006 figure (60%).

Women are much more likely than men to say they want to lose weight. While about three in five women in the latest five-year period would like to trim their waistlines, just under half of men express the same desire. This pattern has been consistent since 2002-2006.

Americans’ Preference to Lose Weight

Would you like to lose weight, stay at your present weight or put on weight? % Lose weight

2002-2006 2007-2011 2012-2016 2017-2021
% % % %
U.S. adults 60 57 52 55
Men 53 50 45 49
Women 66 64 58 61
Averages based on aggregated data

How Many Americans Actively Trying to Lose Weight?

Although more than half of Americans would like to lose weight, an average 26% have said they were seriously trying to do so from 2017 through 2021. This is not significantly different from the previous three five-year periods.

Women (29%) are more likely than men (23%) to report that they are actively attempting to slim down, which has also been a consistent pattern.

Americans’ Self-Reported Serious Attempts to Lose Weight

At this time are you seriously trying to lose weight? % Yes

2002-2006 2007-2011 2012-2016 2017-2021
% % % %
U.S. adults 27 28 25 26
Men 22 23 21 23
Women 32 32 29 29
Averages based on aggregated data

To stay up to date with the latest Gallup News insights and updates, follow us on Twitter.

Gallup measures health attitudes and behaviors each year as part of its Gallup Poll Social Series.

Explore more Gallup articles about weight on the Personal Weight Situation Topics page.

For more articles in the “Short Answer” series, visit Gallup’s The Short Answer page.

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