As Americans continue to grow larger, the weight loss industry continues to rake in billions of dollars each year. Books, medications, meal programs, and diet gurus all sell solutions to the U.S. weight problem, but it now appears that weight-loss success may more difficult to achieve for Americans who are struggling financially.
A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that Americans who financially struggle are less likely to take the steps needed to lose weight.
"The message of how to lose weight according to national guidelines may not resonate with those who struggle to pay their bills," said Lisa Kakinami, lead author of the study and a researcher at Concordia University.
The barrier between the obese poor and weight loss appears to be more than being unable to afford expensive weight-loss tools. In fact, the study found that those with a lower income were actually more likely to turn to expensive diet pills. Low-income individuals were less likely to take on free, well-established weight loss methods such as exercise and cutting out sweets from their diets.
"Certain methods can be pursued no matter where you are, but the inclination to reduce fat or sweets, exercise, or drink more water was lesser in lower-income households compared to the highest-income households," said Kakinami.
Kakinami and her colleagues found that Americans living at or below the poverty line had a "decent awareness" of these proven weight-loss methods, but were less likely to follow them. Instead, lower-income study participants were more likely to seek out quick-fix methods that could be harmful.
The study looked at over 8,800 people who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. The study's authors believe their findings point to a "message gap" between the rich and poor in the U.S. when it comes to weight loss.
"Perhaps all the studies that have been done about weight are becoming muddled in people's minds," said Kakinami. "Maybe it's time to take a step back and evaluate what people know and understand about obesity and weight-loss."