Appearance and Weight Trumps Disease In Women's Concerns

Appearance and Weight Trumps Disease In Women's Concerns

According to a the second in a series of findings from the Meredith/NBC Universal "What do Women Want?", when it comes to health, 56% of women are more concerned about diet/weight and 36% about eating right, while only 23% express the same degree of concern about cancer, 20% about heart health, and 18% about diabetes.

Debbie Reichig, Senior Vice President, Market Development, NBC Universal, notes that "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."

The nationwide survey among more than 3,000 women reveal key insights on the female psyche across topics including health and well-being. Many women are skipping important medical examinations, annual physicals and screenings:

  • Less than two-thirds (59%) of all women get an annual physical, even lower among Gen Y women (44%)
  • Nearly one-third of Boomer women are not getting their important annual mammograms, cholesterol checks or physicals
  • 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

While most women (68%)  like who they are inside and are satisfied with their "identity and development as an individual," only 40% say they are satisfied with their physical appearance and 37% their energy levels.

  • Four in 10 women report that they are more than 20 pounds overweight
  • 29% of Gen Y women say they are at their ideal weight vs. 9% of Gen X and 7% of Boomer women
  • Only 4% of overweight women say they would consider surgery as a weight reduction strategy, while 76% say they would consider exercise and 75% improving their diet to lose weight

84% of American women feel they are overweight:

  • 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.
  • Older women are more likely than younger women to report they are overweight and to join weight management programs
  • oGen X women and Baby Boomer women are more likely to get involved in weight management programs to improve their health and well-being than Gen Y women
  • Gen Y women are more likely to do yoga or Pilates to improve their health and well-being

Most women don't want to work too hard to achieve a healthy lifestyle, opting for simple solutions like drinking more water or eating more fruits and vegetables over the more disciplined approaches like exercising regularly, counting calories, and using portion control.

What Women Do to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle


% of Respondents

Drink more water


Eat more fruits and vegatibles


Read nutritional labels


Avoid foods that are high in fat


Make a conscious effort to lower calorie intake


Watch my sugar intake


Exercise at least three times a week


Source: Meredith/NBC Universal, May 2008

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

But wait...

  • Women are sensitive about their own weight, with 40% who say it's wrong for a man to tell a woman that she's overweight
  • Only 32% of women think it's wrong for a woman to tell a man he's overweight, or a parent to tell a child he or she is overweight (26%)
  • Most women think the battle of the bulge starts at the schools at an early age. The majority of moms claim that while their children eat junk food, it's "not when I'm around"

Diane Salvatore, editor in chief, Ladies' Home Journal, concludes "While staying fit and trim definitely contributes to overall good health, it's only a piece of a proactively healthy lifestyle... These findings should be a wakeup call to American women..."

Please visit Meredith here to review the complete release, and find more information about the study.


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