Incredible as it may seem, 9 of 10 Americans polled by Consumer Reports on Health believe they are healthy eaters, describing their diets as “somewhat,” “very” or “extremely” healthy. So why are so few of us fitting in our jeans, and why are so many of us tipping the scales at overweight or obese? Exactly where is all this excess weight coming from?

“Americans have a tendency to give themselves high marks for healthy eating, but when we asked how many sugary drinks, fatty foods, and fruits and veggies they consumed, we found that their definition of healthy eating was somewhat questionable,” said Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor for Consumer Reports on Health. “We were surprised to find that very few Americans weigh themselves and count calories, two strategies that can help dieters stay on track. Americans seem to rely instead on their own internal compasses to slim their girths.

Survey Highlights

  • 89.7% of Americans described their diets as “somewhat” (52.6%), “very” (31.5%) or “extremely” (5.6%) healthy.
  • 43% of Americans said they drink at least one soda or sugar-sweetened coffee or tea every day.
  • 28% said they limit sweets and sugars every day and roughly the same number (26%) limit fat intake daily; 19% carefully limit their carbs every day.
  • 30% indicated they eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • 79% of those polled rarely or never count calories, while a slim 8% do so on a daily basis;
  • 37% missed the mark when they self-reported their weight. For example, 1 out of 3 people who said they were at a healthy weight actually had a body mass index (BM) in the overweight (30%) or obese range (3%). On the other hand, 8% thought they were overweight or obese when their BMIs suggested otherwise.