Is Your Scale Telling the Truth? Why Americans Miss the Mark on Weight Gain

It’s alarming to see that many Americans are underestimating their weight gain and have a false sense of losing weight even when the reality suggests the opposite. The situation is getting worse, as the obesity ranks in the country continue to surge. A study by the University of Washington revealed that people aren’t honest when asked about their weight, and they have a misconception about shedding pounds. Men were found to be worse at estimating their weight changes than women, and older adults were less aware of their extra pounds than young adults.

As it stands, more than one in four Americans is now obese, and on average, we’re gaining about a pound every year. It’s crucial to understand the reasons behind this weight gain epidemic and take appropriate measures to tackle it effectively.

Misunderstanding Portion Sizes

One of the significant reasons for weight gain is the misunderstanding of portion sizes. According to the American Heart Association, portion sizes in restaurants have doubled or tripled over the past 20 years. This results in people consuming more calories than they think, which turn into excess weight. A straightforward solution to this problem is to be more mindful and vigilant of the portions we consume daily and try cutting back on excessive serving sizes.

Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle is a massive factor in weight gain, as it leads to the burning of fewer calories. With the rise of technology and a considerable number of jobs becoming desk-bound, the problem of physical inactivity has become more prevalent. The solution to this issue is finding the time and motivation to engage in physical activities regularly. The recommended amount of exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

Unhealthy Food Choices

It’s no secret that unhealthy food habits contribute significantly to weight gain. Fast food and processed meals have become a staple for many, which means that people consume relatively high amounts of unhealthy fats, sugars, and empty calories. To tackle this issue, it’s essential to make better food choices and learn about the nutritional value of what we consume. Start by incorporating nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products into your daily diet.

Emotional Eating

Many people tend to turn to food for comfort when they’re experiencing emotional distress such as stress, sadness, or boredom. This emotional eating can lead to an excessive intake of calories, resulting in weight gain. A way to deal with emotional eating is to recognize the triggers and find healthier coping mechanisms such as physical activity, meditation, or speaking with a mental health professional.

Lack of Sleep

Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to weight gain by increasing hunger hormones and reducing satiety hormones, resulting in overeating. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults to maintain a healthy body weight. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleeping environment, and avoiding screen time before bed can help ensure a good night’s rest.


Certain medications can lead to weight gain as a side effect. These medications may include anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and certain hormonal therapies. If you suspect your medication might be causing weight gain, consult your healthcare provider to discuss alternative options. It’s crucial not to stop or make changes to your medication without consulting a professional.

Metabolic Disorders

Metabolic disorders such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and insulin resistance can contribute to weight gain or make it challenging to lose weight. If you have been struggling with weight management despite making lifestyle changes, consider seeking medical advice to rule out or address any underlying health conditions.


Recognizing the fundamental causes of weight gain allows us to take preventive measures and adopt healthier habits. By addressing portion sizes, introducing regular exercise, making better food choices, and dealing with emotional eating effectively, we can better manage our weight and improve our overall health. Further, embracing the importance of sleep, being aware of medication side effects, and consulting health professionals for potential metabolic disorders is crucial to optimizing our well-being and avoiding the detrimental effects of weight gain.