Sacrificing for summer? Most Americans would go to ‘extreme lengths’ for their beach bod

NEW YORK — Three-quarters of Americans believe the idea of a “summer body” encourages people to diet in an unhealthy way, according to new research. Despite 72 percent of respondents agreeing with that sentiment, the survey of 2,000 Americans revealed many still aim to lose weight this summer. In fact, 77 percent of respondents are willing to go to “extreme lengths” to successfully shed their excess pounds.

Results revealed 48 percent of respondents have been on a diet in the past five years with the goal of losing weight — and 78 percent of dieters typically attempt to lose weight before summer starts. Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Herbalife, the survey looked at Americans’ summer goals, and their approach to wellness and weight loss as the weather warms up.

When it comes to wellness priorities this summer, 37 percent of respondents said they’re hoping to lose weight. Feeling healthier was the respondents’ top aim (46%), followed by increasing their fitness (45%) and eating healthily (42%).

Millennials were more likely to prioritize feeling healthier (53%), compared to 36 percent of Gen Xers and 29 percent of baby boomers surveyed. Moreover, millennial respondents were also more interested in increasing their fitness than other generations (54% of millennials, vs. 33% of Gen X and 23% of baby boomers).

“A comprehensive and sustainable approach to weight loss includes awareness and education around healthy eating and exercise, and most importantly behavior change,” says Dr. Kent Bradley, Chief Health and Nutrition Officer at Herbalife, in a statement.

summer weight loss

Results also showed that only 59 percent of respondents feel they have a good understanding of how to be healthy. This varied by generation: Gen X and baby boomer respondents had a better understanding of how to be healthy than their millennial counterparts (63% and 75%, respectively, vs. 55%).

This lack of understanding may be hurting respondents. Of the 77 percent of dieters willing to go to “extreme lengths,” 68 percent said they would participate in fad diets. That’s even as 57 percent of all respondents admit they’re worried about the safety of fad diets. When asked what hurdles they’ve run into when trying to be healthy, the top obstacle was a lack of self-control (52%). That was followed by the cost — healthy eating being expensive (51%) — and not liking the taste of healthy foods (39%).

About a third of respondents also highlighted being healthy as “too time-consuming” (36%) and cited their own procrastination (32%) as hurdles they’ve faced. Others said negative influences around them (23%), and a lack of motivation (21%) stop them from being healthy.

For respondents who have fallen off their healthy routines, a quarter (26%) have then sought the help of an expert (trainer, health coach, dietitian, etc.) to get them back on track. Despite the obstacles that can come with healthy eating, 79 percent said changing their behavior is the best way to make a lasting impact on their health.

“Adhering to a nutrition or fitness plan is often a challenge, which is why setting small goals and enlisting the help of a coach and a supportive community can help motivate a person towards the healthy behavior changes needed for long-term results,” Bradley adds.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Herbalife on June 23, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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