Survey Shows Weight Rivals the Economy as Source of Stress


In 2009, polls showed that 80 percent of Americans were stressed out about the economy. It was a tough time and it’s a wonder anyone would be able to think about anything else. But, apparently,they did. They still worried whether they look fat in their jeans.

In a survey conducted by Green Mountain at Fox Run at the same time, a full 60 percent of respondents (most of whom were women) said their weight creates as much or more stress in their lives than the economy.

The survey asked, “Which Stresses You More: Your Weight or the Economy?” Here’s the breakdown of the 630 respondents, 91.1 percent of whom were female:

picture-5While concern about the economy is clearly the winner, concern about weight gives the economy a surprising run for its money. With many calling this the biggest recession since the Great Depression, the fact that over one-quarter ranked concern about weight as more stressful than economic worries, and another third said weight was equally stressful, is troubling. I suppose it goes to show that no matter what else may be going on in our lives, the persistent negative thoughts many of us have about our bodies don’t just take a vacation. Another interesting twist is the shame one woman expressed that she voted for her weight:

“I think I may be shallow for feeling this way, but I voted my weight,” one mom wrote on after taking our survey. “I think about my weight all day long. We are in the process of trying to buy a house and pay off lots of credit card debt. That is VERY stressful too. But I think about and stress over my weight much more than the economy.”

Not only does she feel stressed about her weight, now she feels shallow as a result of those feelings. What an energy drain! When we truly stop and think how much time we spend each day criticizing ourselves and undermining the small successes of daily life, it’s truly mind boggling.

One woman, who said the economy was more stressful, was more pragmatic. She wrote:

“I voted economy mostly because that is out of my control. I can control the factors that influence my weight so I don’t worry as much about it but I do focus on it (calories eaten, exercise done). The economy just brings me continual worry because I can’t control the stock market or home values or job losses.”

The notion of control is interesting. While we can influence our weight, we can only control our behaviors. Ultimately, our weight is determined by a lot of factors, including genetics and age. Still, how many of us truly feel that we are in control of our weight and not the other way around?

Before we conducted the survey, we had a hunch that weight was still a major concern for Americans, even as the economy flounders. What’s perhaps more interesting is how stress itself impacts us. What do we do when we’re stressed out about the economy, our weight, or anything else? Many of us eat, and it shows up as extra pounds and inches over the years.

If there were one stress that you could remove from your life, we’d vote for worry over your weight. While it may not be easy, accepting yourself as you are right now, in this moment, and doing the best you can to maintain a lifestyle that promotes well being is a great start. Because if we’re living mindfully, we can reach a healthy weight that’s right for us and stay there without struggle.”

Are you surprised by the results? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

3 responses to “Survey Shows Weight Rivals the Economy as Source of Stress”

  1. Topics about Stock » Archive » Survey Shows Weight Rivals the Economy as Source of Stress says:

    […] Another fellow blogger put an intriguing blog post on Survey Shows Weight Rivals the Economy as Source of StressHere’s a quick excerptWith recent polls showing that 80 percent of Americans are stressed out about the economy, it’s a wonder we have time to think about anything else. But, apparently, we do. We still wonder whether we look fat in our jeans. Green Mountain at Fox Run recently conducted a survey asking: “Which… […]

  2. Angie says:

    Wow- scary isn’t it? That is one of my goals in working with patients/clients in weight management – helping them to lose the anxiety and worry about weight in order to live a full and happy life – and often then, the weight loss happens. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  3. Marsha says:

    Thanks to Tristan for featuring our survey in her blog carnival.

About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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