News Page


Survey Says: “You’re Pleasantly Plump”

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
  • More Than One-Quarter Polled by RMU Expect to Gain Holiday Weight
  • Many Place Blame on Spouse’s or Friend’s “Good” Cooking
  • BMIs Are Through the Roof

Pittsburgh, November 19, 2013 – More than a quarter of Americans expect to gain weight over the holidays, and approximately 65 percent are already overweight, according to results of a new national survey among 1,003 adults regarding the status of health among Americans. The poll was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media.

As part of a broader “2013 National Health Assessment”, the survey collected height and weight of survey respondents allowing the calculation of Body Mass Index numbers or BMIs.

The results depicted a serious health dilemma.  Results included:

    Normal Weight:     35.5%
    Overweight:          29.9%     
    Obese:                25.6%
    Morbidly Obese:     4.4%

“Though obesity rates in our sample are somewhat lower than those observed in earlier studies, the bad news is that those who expect to gain more weight over the holidays are already significantly more overweight than those who don't.” said Joseph Angelelli, director of the Health Services Administration program at Robert Morris University.

While Americans appear to be significantly overweight, 27.7 percent of all respondents – “based on their past” – expect to gain weight over the coming Holidays. Another 54.7 percent did not expect weight gain and 17 percent were unsure.

Who do they blame? Multiple responses were accepted – 91 percent blame themselves while 9.7 percent blame a spouse’s good cooking and 19.4 percent blame good cooking by friends and relatives. Just 3.9 percent did not place blame.

Other findings held within the 2013 National Health Assessment included:

  • A large number of those surveyed, 18.3 percent, indicated there was a time over the past 12 months when they needed to see a doctor but could not due to cost.
  • Just under two-thirds, 62.3 percent, of respondents indicated they do vigorous physical activity (15.4 percent) or moderate physical activity (46.9 percent) when not working.
  • One fifth, 22.9 percent, indicated they smoke every day (16.6 percent) or some days (6.3 percent).
  • Texting and driving was considered dangerous by 90.9 percent of those surveyed.
  • While studies have shown the use of hands-free cell phone use while driving to be as dangerous as hands-on cell use during driving, just 41.2 percent considered “hands free” use dangerous.
  • Driving while smoking pot or marijuana was considered dangerous by 80.5 percent of those surveyed.
  • While 84.1 percent indicated wearing safety belts “always”, the remainder reported using the belts anywhere from “frequently” to “never”.
  • A large number, when extrapolated on the total population of drivers, 3.6 percent, suggested they have driven a car over the last 30 days when they have had, perhaps, too much alcohol to drink.

Angelelli pointed to research by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which shows that 75 percent of the nearly $2 trillion spent annually on health care in the United States is the result of chronic health conditions such as obesity.

“We need more engagement between patients, their physicians, and other health care providers,” said Angelelli.

ABOUT THE POLL: The Poll was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media. Polling by the Institute is conducted on a regular basis and may also include spontaneous polling on occurring events.

METHODOLOGY: The Poll sampled opinions of 1,003 approximately proportional to state population contribution nationwide. The survey was conducted October 23 – November 1, 2013. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.0 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis.


Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.

Trib Total Media is a multimedia network of daily and weekly newspapers, weekly shoppers, and websites delivering news, information and advertising to over 1.2 million readers across Western Pennsylvania every week. Trib Total Media also provides targeted direct mail, commercial printing and promotional item services.  Visit us online at and get it right.