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Global weight survey – a must read

Leading global market research firm Synovate today released data that shows that across the world people have conflicting attitudes and behaviours when it comes to managing their weight.

The survey found that people are very contradictory when it came to the sensitive and important issue of their weight. It found that all over the world there are people who cannot resist that extra piece of pizza or that one more hamburger, then try to make themselves feel better by washing it down with diet cola.

The findings come from a global survey carried out by the market research firm Synovate. They looked at weight management among more than 9,000 respondents across 13 countries on five continents – United Kingdom, France, Czech Republic, Romania, United States, Canada, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.

Monitoring Weight

They wanted to see if people were habitually thinking about their weight and monitoring it. They found that in Hong Kong only 15% get on the scales once or more every week. But in France 15% weight themselves every single day, as do 12% of Americans.

A third of all those surveyed weight themselves regularly. While one in five never weigh themselves. Half of all Americans and the French check their weight once a week or more and the Singaporeans are the least weight-obsessed with 37% never getting on the scales.

However it is believed that the reason the French weigh themselves regularly is for different reasons to the Americans. The French are very image conscious; it is part of their culture and is something they are very proud of. They are also very aware of the health problems obesity can cause.

In the UAE 22% weighs themselves once a week against 15 % in Saudi Arabia and 19% of the Saudis claim they never weigh themselves at all.

Food Is It Seen As Fuel or Pleasure?

The study asked a series of attitudinal questions which respondents agreed or disagreed and those who carried out the survey thought this was the clincher in realising just how conflicted people seem to be about food.

Although 54% of respondents said they eat whatever they want, whenever they want, two thirds said they strived for a healthy diet and watched their food intake carefully. This flies in the face of the first claim. This is the crux of food issues across the globe. People are torn by food as fuel versus food as pleasure.

The number one fast food nation

The Synovate study also uncovered the number one fast food nation. When asked to agree or disagree with the statement ‘I like the taste of fast food too much to give it up’, the most addicted nation was the United Kingdom with 45% agreeing. This was because the UK loves their fish and chips.

It was assumed that the Americans would be number one, although they were only one percent behind with 44% agreeing with the statement. Their addiction was for burgers, pizza and wings. Canada came third in the fast food race.

The highest disagrees were France (81%), Singapore (75%) and Hong Kong and Romania (both 73%). The Saudis disagreed on this statement with 67% and the UAE with 60%.

Although the French are concerned about their weight it is not because of fast food. In fact they traditionally use high fat cooking techniques, sharing these classic meals with loved ones. Spending time over meals is something that is part of French sensibility. However there may also be an element of not wanting to admit that fast food has a place in their lives.


Obesity is a global issue. It is reaching epidemic proportions in developed nations and many developing countries now also have problems.

When people were asked what is the main cause of obesity 40% of all people attributed it to food. 20% chose ‘unhealthy food choices’ and another 20% chose ‘unhealthy food habits like eating at irregular hours’. 18% said lack of exercise, 13% blame the individual (‘no self-discipline’) and 11% say ‘genetics’.

People in the UK (21%) and US (20%), two of the nations with the biggest issues, are most likely to nominate ‘no self-discipline’ as the leading factor in obesity.

Across the globe, very few people blame their Government as the number one factor in causing obesity.

Losing Weight

The Synovate survey asked what steps people took when their weight creeps past a certain threshold.

Globally 47% decided to reduce their food intake followed by 43% increasing their physical activity and 35% changing the type of food they eat. So most respondents address weight issues with measures related to food rather than exercise.

57% of Americans, 56% of French and 54% of Britons deny themselves food to try to lose the pounds, while 14% of Malaysians go for an easy fix, opting for herbs and supplements to try to manage the problem.

A lucky 21% of respondents say their weight does not change. 33% of Hong Kong people, 29% of Singaporeans and 27% of Brazilians fall into this category.

Home gyms, low-fat foods and weight loss programmes

When people were asked if they were taking measures to reduce or maintain their weight 40% were doing nothing. This was the most popular choice even though the girth of many nations is growing at an alarming rate.

However 33% were on low fat food products and 22% use home gym equipment. The USA and the UAE were at the top of this list with 33% working out at home. This was followed by Canada (31%) and the UK (30%). The three nations with some of the worst weight problems, America, the UK and Canada do appear to be getting the message and would rather workout in the privacy of their own home.

In the Middle East they seem to throw everything at weight loss. The Saudis and the UAE were among the top users of low fat foods, herbs and supplements, meal replacements, weight loss courses, diet books, gym memberships, home exercise equipment and diet plans.

This may be because 50% of the nation is overweight. It may not be very focused but at least health issues are creeping into the consumer consciousness – however, these measures may be more about looking good than improving health.’

WeightWatchers™ are most popular in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia (10% of respondents are using or have used them) and Australia at 9%.

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