Healthy Living

Survey Shows Americans Care More About Their Weight Than Their Debt

Credit-card debt
A recent survey suggests that Americans care more about their weight than their debt; almost half (46 percent) of adults are carrying credit card debt. Lotus Head, Creative Commons

Roughly half of American men surveyed by Credit Karma, a personal finance company, agree with the following statement: “How much I weigh is more important than how much debt I have.” Surprisingly, fewer women than men (38 percent of women) agreed that weight is more important than debt.

Given that about three-quarters of Americans are in some kind of debt and nearly two-thirds are overweight (including those who are obese, according to the Center for Disease Controls and Prevention), maybe weight is what Americans should be thinking about.

After all, debt, if paid down, will eventually go away in time, but the health problems associated with too much weight gain, including heart disease and diabetes, may be here to stay.

More than 2,000 Americans, ages 18 and over, took the online survey conducted by Harris Interactive in June 2013. (Credit Karma warns that its online survey is “not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.”)

Nearly two-thirds of Americans think about their physical appearance more than their debt and 72 percent would rather keep their current debt than gain 25 lbs. and be completely debt-free. These numbers, though, were skewed toward the young, with adults under 34 reporting themselves more likely to worry about their looks than those over the age of 55.

Of those Americans who are in debt, almost half (46 percent) are paying off a credit card, 38 percent are paying off a mortgage, about one-quarter are making auto loan payments, 18 percent are paying off a student loan, and 22 percent have some kind of other debt. On average, survey respondents had about $6,000 in credit card debt, $111,000 in mortgage debt, and more than $11,000 in automobile debt, reports American Public Media.

Seventy percent of Americans care more about their physical health than their financial health. Although a doctor might be pleased to hear this news, a financial expert would not.

Ken Lin, Credit Karma’s chief consumer advocate, said in a statement released to the press that physical health is clearly important to Americans. “We want a similar focus on Americans’ financial well-being,” said Lin.

The real question: would the survey be the same if taken in the winter and not at the start of beach season? One can only wonder. Meanwhile, in another poll conducted by Harris Interactive last month, most Americans anticipate the status quo for the near future.

On the most personal level, about one-quarter of adults say that they expect their household financial condition to be better within the next half of the year, while one-quarter say that they expect it to be worse and about half say that they expect it will remain the same. About 44 percent similarly expect that the general economy will stay the same in the coming year while on the other side of the coin, almost an equal number believe it will either improve (29 percent) or get worse (27 percent).

When ascribing blame for their current economic condition, some Americans (38 percent) cast their votes for Congress, and still slightly more than one-third say the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, or the President has a great deal of influence on how they are doing financially.

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