While the Obesity Epidemic Continues to Grow, the Majority of Consumers Do Not See Themselves at Risk

BELLEVUE, WA, April 8, 2004 - Being overweight is not a physical health problem - that is the belief of the majority of U.S. consumers, according to the latest research from The Hartman Group. The study, Obesity in America: Understanding Weight Management from a Consumer Perspective, is the result of hundreds of hours of one-on-one consumer interviews and a nationally representative survey of 5,000 U.S. consumers.

"I'm overweight, but I'm healthy", "I'm just big-boned", and "I'm curvy" were the frequently stated euphemisms respondents used to describe their overweight body type. Furthermore, rather than using objective measurements, such as body weight and BMI, to assess personal body size, people simply compared themselves to the people they live and work around every day. Not surprisingly, by that definition, the majority of consumers regard themselves as "normal" - despite BMI measurements that show 66% of Americans are overweight or obese.

Key findings include:

While consumers demonstrate their awareness of the supposed connection between excess weight and health risks, most do not perceive themselves at risk.

Consumers place a premium on having choices. They want healthy food options, but they also want indulgent options. They do not want to feel they have to accept one or the other.

The vast majority of consumers do not blame food manufacturers or food advertising for causing weight problems, though some consumers do recognize the severe temptations created by both entities.

"Consumers are not resonating with current initiatives regarding weight management. The vast majority of consumers are comfortable with their weight and are not seeking solutions," explained Founder and CEO of The Hartman Group, Harvey Hartman. "Anyone looking to reach overweight consumers needs to use new language, new methods, and new channels of communication in order to be effective."

About "Obesity in America"
This report is the result of hundreds of hours of qualitative ethnographic interviews and a survey from a nationally representative sample of 5,000 U.S. consumers. Consumer interviews were conducted with people in their homes, at the grocery store, at restaurant meals, and with their social networks. Findings from Obesity in America are available in a complete report or in several subsections. The table of contents and an abstract from the report are available online.

About The Hartman Group
The Hartman Group, founded in 1989, is a full-service consulting and market research firm that develops, collects and strategically analyzes consumer and trade information for companies that seek to produce and market natural, nutritional or health promoting consumer products and services.

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