Americans Focus on Wealth, Weight

August 26, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Boomers & Older | Data-driven | Financial Services | Household Income | Men | Women | Youth & Gen X

Given the choice, most Americans would rather be richer and thinner than smarter and younger, according to the results of a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll.

4 in 10 Want to be Richer
Looking at overall results, about four in 10 (43%) Americans would prefer to be richer if they could select one of four choices. This was twice the response rate of being thinner (21%), the second-most-popular option. Despite the US culture’s obsession with youth, only 12% wanted to be younger, slightly trailing smarter (14%). Nine percent are satisfied with how they are.


Women More Weight-conscious
Breaking down responses by gender, men (46%) are slightly more likely than women (41%) to desire greater wealth. However, twice as many women (29%) as men (14%) want to be thinner. Interestingly, twice as many men (16%) as women (8%) want to be younger.

35-44 Want Riches
Looking at responses by age, the 35-to-44-year-old bracket has the highest rate for wanting to be richer (53%), closely followed by 18-to-34-year-olds (50%). Those 55 and older have the lowest rate of wanting to be richer (34%), and unsurprisingly the highest rate of wanting to be younger (19%).

The highest rate of wanting to be smarter (16%) is found among 18-to-34-year-olds, many of whom are still in some form of school. The highest rate of wanting to be thinner is found among 45-to-54-year-olds (22%).

Parents Want Money
The one notable statistical difference between respondents with and without children in their household is a higher rate of parents who want to be richer (48% compared to 41%). Anyone who is a parent does not need this discrepancy explained.

Americans Smoke Less, Gain Weight
Tracking actual behavior rather than desired behavior, Americans smoked less but continued gaining weight during the last five years, according to the annual Harris Poll on key health risks.

In 2010, 17% of US adults said they smoked cigarettes, down from 20% in 2009 and a five-year high of 24% in 2007. By comparison, in 1983, 30% of US adults smoked cigarettes.

Unlike tobacco usage, the percentage of US adults who are overweight and obese has risen in the past five years. Using the widely accepted Body Mass Index (BMI) measurement, in 2010, 64% of US adults had a BMI score of 25 or more, indicating they are overweight. Another 29% of US adults had a BMI of 30 or more, indicating obesity.

In 2005, 59% of US adults were overweight and 23% were obese according to BMI scores. The percentage of overweight US adults peaked at 66% in 2006 and 2009. 2010 marks the highest percentage of obese US adults.

About the Data: This Adweek Media/Harris Poll was conducted online within the US between July 27 and 29, 2010 among 2,163 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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