Women More Concerned about Diet and Weight Than Serious Diseases

May 21, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Pharma & Healthcare | Women | Youth & Gen X

Women are more concerned about diet/weight (56%) and eating right (36%) than cancer (23%), cardiovascular/heart health (20%), and diabetes (18%), according to the second in a series of findings from the Meredith Corp./NBC Universal “What do Women Want?” survey.

While most women like who they are inside and are satisfied with their “identity and development as an individual” (68%), only 4 in 10 women say they are satisfied with their physical appearance (40%) and/or energy levels (37%).

Additional health-related findings from the nationwide survey conducted among more than 3,000 women, below.

Medical Examinations

Many women are skipping important medical examinations, including annual physicals and cancer screenings:

  • Less than two-thirds (59%) of all women get an annual physical, while more than two-thirds get an annual blood pressure check-up (67%) and visit the dentist at least once a year (66%).
  • Only 44% of Gen Y women get an annual physical, compared to 69% of Baby Boomer women.
  • 62% of women regularly give themselves a breast self-examination, while only 14% of all women get a skin cancer screening at least once a year.
  • Nearly one-third of Boomer women are not getting their important annual mammograms, cholesterol checks or physicals.

To improve health and well-being, some women have taken the following non-traditional approaches: natural herbs and supplements (26%), bought/adopted a pet (25%), meditation (11%), acupuncture (4%), visited a hypnotist (1%).

Weight Concerns

  • The vast majority of American women (84%) feel they are overweight.
  • Older women are more likely than younger women to report they are overweight and to join weight management programs.
    • More Gen Y women (29%) feel they are the ideal weight, compared to Gen X women (9%) and Baby Boomer women (7%).
    • Gen X women (22%) and Baby Boomer women (20%) are more likely to get involved in weight management programs to improve their health and well-being than Gen Y women (14%).
    • On the other hand, Gen Y women (24%) are more likely to do yoga or Pilates to improve their health and well-being than their Gen X (18%) and Boomer (8%) counterparts.
  • Overall, 13% of women feel that they are the ideal weight, while 23% feel they are 21-50 pounds overweight and 16% report being more than 50 pounds overweight.
  • Among women who feel they are overweight, exercise (76%) and improving diet (75%) are the top two strategies for weight reduction, while taking medications and/or dietary supplements (17%) and undergoing surgery (4%) are less popular methods.
  • Still, to achieve a healthy lifestyle, more women opt for simple strategies than more disciplined approaches:
    • Drink more water (80%)
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables (70%)
    • Read nutritional labels (49%)
    • Avoid foods that are high in fat (47%)
    • Make a conscious effort to lower calorie intake (44%)
    • Watch my sugar intake (44%)
    • Exercise at least three times a week (43%)
  • Women are sensitive about their own weight, with 4 in 10 (40%) saying it’s wrong for a man to tell a woman that she’s overweight. However…
    • Fewer women think it’s wrong for a woman to tell a man he’s overweight (32%)
    • Or a parent to tell a child he or she is overweight (26%)
  • Women with children are especially likely to say that “it is difficult for me to find time to take care of my physical appearance” (28% vs. 22% total women).

Childhood Obesity

  • The majority of moms acknowledge that their children eat junk food; however, most (72%) say it’s “not while I’m around”
  • Only 11% of moms say their children eat healthy all the time while 17% of moms say their children eat too much junk food.
  • Most women feel the battle against the obesity epidemic starts young and in the schools, with healthier choices for children (76%), mandated nutrition education starting at an early age (66%) and adequate funding of physical education programs (62%).

Top 10 Health Concerns (across all generations)

  1. Diet/weight control (56%)
  2. Eating well/nutrition (36%)
  3. Allergies (27%)
  4. Aging process (26%)
  5. Mental health (25%)
  6. Arthritis (24%)
  7. Cancer (23%)
  8. Cardiovascular/heart health (20%)
  9. Diabetes (18%)
  10. Menopause (18%)

Professionals Women Would Want to Hire

(Up to 5 choices allowed.)

  1. Personal Trainer (47%)
  2. Personal Chef (34%)
  3. Financial Advisor (31%)
  4. Live-In Housekeeper (31%)
  5. Professional Masseuse (29%)
  6. Nutritionist (28%)
  7. Professional Organizer to de-clutter your living space or office (24%)
  8. Stylist (19%)
  9. Interior Decorator (15%)
  10. Career Counselor (13%)

* * *

“While staying fit and trim definitely contributes to overall good health, it’s only a piece of a proactively healthy lifestyle,” said Diane Salvatore, editor-in-chief, Ladies’ Home Journal. “These findings should be a wakeup call to American women everywhere to make their yearly checkups without fail and make their own personal health a top priority.”

“It is particularly important for marketers in the health and wellness category to have a clear understanding of women’s behaviors, motivations and thoughts so that the messaging they create will resonate and have enhanced impact,” said Debbie Reichig, SVP, Market Development, NBC Universal.

About the data: Applied Research & Consulting conducted an online survey among 3,000 women age 18-64 from October 1 to October 12, 2007. The data was sample-balanced to reflect the US Census Bureau. Some sections were administered to a split sample to accommodate the length of the survey.

Meredith’s media brands include Ladies’ Home Journal, More, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Fitness, Siempre Mujer and BHG.com. NBC Universal’s brands include The Today Show, MSNBC, Bravo, Oxygen, Access Hollywood, Telemundo, and iVillage.

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