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If you're an adult in America, there's about a 50-50 chance you've been on a diet in the past year

Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Dieting has become the new normal in the U.S.

If you doubt this is true, just ask two American adults whether they've tried to lose weight in the past year. Odds are, one of them will say yes, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between 2013 and 2016, 49.1 percent of Americans ages 20 and up told interviewers with the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that they made an effort to shed some pounds in the previous 12 months.

Some Americans were more likely to diet than others. For instance, 56.4 percent of women tried to lose weight, versus 41.7 percent of men.

Age was a factor, too. Interviewers found that 52.4 percent of adults in their 40s and 50s had recently gone on a diet, compared with 49.7 percent of adults who were younger and 42.7 percent of adults who were older. (In every age group, women were more likely to diet than men.)

Race and ethnicity mattered less. A total of 49.4 percent of white men and women reported a weight-loss attempt, as did 48 percent of black adults and 49.1 percent of Latino adults. Those differences weren't large enough to be statistically significant. However, all of those figures were higher than the 41.4 percent of Asian Americans who said they had dieted in the past 12 months.

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Not surprisingly, the more extra pounds people had, the more likely they were to make an attempt to lose them.

Exactly two-thirds of adults who were obese (defined as having a body mass index of at least 30) said they had gone on a diet in the past year. So did 49 percent of adults who were merely overweight (with a BMI between 25 and just under 30).

Even 26.5 percent of the American adults who had a normal weight or were underweight (that is, anyone with a BMI under 25) said they had tried to slim down in the previous year.

They say you can never be too rich or too thin, and sure enough, the data revealed that people with more money were more inclined to watch their weight.

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