People looking in mirrorAmericans believe their fellow Americans have gotten fat. They consider this a serious national problem. But when they think about weight, they appear to use different scales for different people.

Nine-in-ten American adults say most of their fellow Americans are overweight. But just seven-in-ten say this about “the people they know.” And just under four-in-ten (39%) say they themselves are overweight.

These sliding assessments are drawn from a Pew Research Center telephone survey conducted from February 8 through March 7 among a randomly selected, representative national sample of 2,250 adults.

The survey finds that most Americans, including those who say they are overweight, agree that personal behavior – rather than genetic disposition or marketing by food companies – is the main reason people are overweight. In particular, the public says that a failure to get enough exercise is the most important reason, followed by a lack of willpower about what to eat. About half the public also says that the kinds of foods marketed at restaurants and grocery stores are a very important cause, and roughly a third say the same about the effect of genetics and heredity.

Read the full report for more details.