New Roy Morgan research shows that 72% of Australian adult women say they would like to lose weight, while 56% are actually overweight—and this disconnect in body perception is widest among young women aged 18-24.
Among women aged 18-24, 36% are overweight, yet twice as many agree with the statement, “I would like to be able to lose weight” (72%).
The World Health Organization defines Overweight as a Body Mass Index (weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared) of 25 or over.
More than nine out of 10 overweight young women agree they want to lose weight and so do 60% of those with a BMI below 25, the research found.
Across all age groups, at least seven in 10 women say they want to lose weight—consistently outnumbering those who actually have a BMI 25 and over. Overall, 50% of women with a BMI under 25 nevertheless say they would like to lose weight.
Among men, the number in each age group who say they want to lose weight more closely mirrors the actual incidence of overweight men.
Although men with a BMI under 25 are far less likely than women to want to lose weight regardless, those who are overweight are also less likely: 63% of Aussie adult males are overweight, but 58% agree they would like to be able to lose weight.
Almost a quarter of all overweight men actually disagree that they would like to lose weight—including one in three overweight men aged 18-24.
1.5 million Australian adults (8%) buy weight loss or meal replacement products in an average six month period—11% of women and 6% of men.
And, reflecting their inflated weight loss ambitions above, women aged 18-24 are among the most likely to have bought these products in the last six months (13%).
Overall, 11% of overweight Australian adults buy weight loss or meal replacement products.
“Men and women clearly have different attitudes to weight loss, especially 18 to 24 year-olds,” says Andrew Price, General Manager – Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research.
“Around six in 10 young women with a BMI less than 25 would still like to lose weight, while one in three younger men with a BMI over 25 don’t want to lose any.
“It may be that some younger men want muscle bulk that classifies them as overweight, while among younger women a BMI of 22-25 or so is not as ‘acceptable’ as it is, medically, across the total population.
“18-24 year-old men and women with a BMI 25+ are each over 60% more likely than the average overweight Australian of their respective gender buy weight loss or meal replacement products. 22% of overweight young women and 13% of overweight young men have bought such items in the last six months.”