Optimism about Future Weight Loss Surges While the Worldwide Waistline Widens, According to New Survey; Is There Denial about the Changes That Need to Take Place?

Optimism about Future Weight Loss Surges While the Worldwide Waistline Widens, According to New Survey; Is There Denial about the Changes That Need to Take Place?

Lifestyle Editors/Feature Editors/Health/Medical Writers


Herbalife Nutritional Index Gauges Perceptions of Diet Behaviors

In U.S., Germany, Italy, France and Russia

An average of 66 percent of respondents surveyed in five countries for the Herbalife Nutritional Index believe they are overweight, yet only 37 percent believe that they will be overweight in five years. The question is — does this point to a well-founded optimism about a thinner future, or to a failure to acknowledge the significant changes that need to be made in diet and exercise?

“People are not putting into practice what it really takes to lose weight,” said Dr. David Heber, founding director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and chairman of Herbalife’s Scientific Advisory Board. “Many dieters are caught in a cycle of trying on various ad-hoc dieting approaches that have nothing to do with their specific needs — and they do so without making lasting changes. If they obtain results, they are quick and temporary. We know that right now, one-third of Americans are using a diet of their own creation — whatever that may be.”

According to the Herbalife Nutritional Index, 67 percent of respondents have been on a diet at some point, and 50 percent have dieted in the past 12 months.

Dr. Heber continued, “At the same time, the dietary world has become more complex. People with increasingly limited time are challenged to navigate an increasingly complicated food supply with a growing roster of covert ‘bad’ foods — trans-fatty acids, hidden fats and sugars, and various ‘no-fat’ foods that fuel appetite and hunger. So, against this backdrop, how is the average person, using a diet of his/her own creation, going to successfully cut 500-1000 calories a day in order to lose a pound of fat per week? One to two pounds of weight loss add up quickly and is the safe rate of weight loss recommended. He or she is going to guess about calorie content and where calorie cuts should come from. In my opinion, it’s chaos out there.”

Approximately 5,000 adults in the United States, Russia, Germany, Italy and France were surveyed for the Herbalife Nutritional Trends Index to help identify trends and causative factors related to obesity, and to assess present attitudes/perceptions towards food, exercise and dieting/weight loss. The goal of the survey, undertaken by A.C. Nielsen, is to benchmark this lifestyle trend information, which can then be tracked and re-visited in the future to assess changes.

The U.S.

“The survey re-affirms that the worldwide leader in obesity is clearly still the U.S.,” continued Dr. Heber. “The U.S. is the catalyst in the growth of the ‘worldwide waistline.'”

Several Survey Statistics:

Beliefs About Future Obesity:

— While 74 percent of American survey respondents rate

themselves as overweight now, only 38 percent anticipate that

they will be overweight in five years.

— American survey respondents who believe that they will be

heavy in five years are more likely to be women (44 percent)

and are more likely to have overweight children.

— These same U.S. “overweight anticipators” are less likely to

believe that unhealthy meals are a main cause of weight gain.

They are less likely to have reduced the amount of

carbohydrates they eat (40 percent), and they admit they have

trouble with willpower (two-thirds mention difficulty with

adhering to the requirements of a diet).

Americans are snacking themselves fat.

— More Americans snack after dinner, 38 percent, (the worst time

of day to snack, from a weight management perspective). Only

11 percent to 24 percent of European respondents report

snacking after dinner.

Americans are the heaviest of the heavy.

— Not only did the U.S. respondents most frequently rate

themselves as overweight, BUT the Americans also most

frequently rated themselves as significantly overweight (26

percent consider themselves to be 20 percent over their ideal


Americans are heaviest, even though they exercise the most.

— 52 percent of American respondents claim to exercise

regularly, the highest level among the five countries


Americans have heavier children.

— Among survey respondents, more Americans cited their children

as being overweight (16 percent).

Americans are less likely to eat breakfast.

— Less than half of the American survey respondents (44 percent)

report eating breakfast six or more days per week, compared

with 63 percent to 78 percent of Europeans surveyed.

Americans consider dinner to be the most important meal of the day to be healthy.

— Respondents in Germany, Italy and France are most likely to

cite breakfast as the most important meal of the day for


Americans are more likely to eat alone.

— American respondents show the lowest rate of sharing any of

the three daily meals with others.

The World in a Nutshell

Americans and Europeans think they are heavy now, but will be thin later.

— 74 percent of American respondents evaluate themselves as

heavy; 38 percent think they’ll be heavy in five years.

— 70 percent of German respondents evaluate themselves as heavy;

30 percent think they’ll be heavy in five years.

— 67 percent of the Italians evaluate themselves as heavy; 37

percent think they will be heavy in five years.

— 61 percent of the French evaluate themselves as heavy; 39

percent think they’ll be heavy in five years.

— 51 percent of the Russians evaluate themselves as heavy; 40

percent think they’ll be heavy in five years.

Americans and Europeans have already been on a diet.

— Fifty percent of American and 50 percent of Italian

respondents report having been on a diet in the past year. In

second place, 48 percent of French respondent’s report dieting

in the past year, followed by 37 percent of the Germans and 33

percent of the Russians.

Americans and Europeans understand what makes people gain weight.

— Meals that are not nutritionally balanced (41 percent) and

insufficient exercise (33 percent).

Americans and Europeans understand what we should/should not eat.

— Respondents from all countries appear to agree about what

foods they should eat more of (fruits, vegetables) and less of

(sweets, fats, oils).

Eating Alone, Fewer Meals With Others:

— Most countries show a net decrease in eating meals with

household members over the last five years, especially in

Italy, Germany and Russia. The number of meals eaten with

friends is also decreasing in the U.S., Germany and (most

markedly) in Russia.

Europeans are more likely to eat breakfast.

— Compared to 44 percent of Americans surveyed, 78 percent of

the French, 75 percent of the Italians, 67 percent of the

Russians and 63 percent of the Germans report eating breakfast

six or seven days a week.

Who eats three squares a day?

— French and Italian respondents most regularly eat three meals

a day and least frequently snack between meals.

“I believe that the picture that emerges from this survey is that among the five countries, there is no clear winner — there is no ‘pristine’ country that is untouched by the obesity epidemic and the increasingly poor eating and exercise habits spreading around the world,” continued Dr. Heber. “In order to lose weight, you have got to be realistic — if you are heavy now, you will continue to be heavy unless you undertake a well-articulated and sensible eating and exercise plan in which you burn more calories than you consume. And, ad-hoc diets of individuals’ own making won’t get them there.”

Herbalife is a leading company in science-based weight management and meal replacements. The Company offers a wide range of weight management products, nutritional supplements and personal care products intended to support weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. The Company’s products are marketed through a network marketing system comprising approximately one million independent distributors who conduct business in 58 countries in the Asia/Pacific Rim, Japan, Europe and the Americas. In 2002, the Company had gross revenues of $1.8 billion. For more information, visit www.herbalife.com.

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