A new Associated Press-iVillage poll suggests that many American women are unhappy with their figures, yet they face a disconnect between what they perceive a healthy body image to be and true physical conditioning.
The poll, conducted from April 20-30 by Knowledge Networks, contacted 1,000 women by telephone and mail, then questioned them online, providing Internet access for those who needed it. Among the poll's findings:
Half of the women surveyed said they didn't like their weight. In fact, 26 percent of poll participants whose body-mass index (BMI) -- a measure of weight for height -- was in the normal range still reported being unhappy with their shape.
Only 8 percent of women ate the minimum recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and 28 percent admitted they only took in the recommended servings once a week or less.
Women put in a median of 80 minutes of exercise a week, meaning half did even less. The average adult is supposed to get 2 1/2 hours of exercise a week for good health.
A quarter of the women polled said they'd consider plastic surgery to feel better about their body, and most would choose a tummy tuck.
Even among normal-weight women, a full 16 percent said they were dieting to drop pounds.
"The priorities are flipped," Dr. Molly Poag, chief of psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told the pollsters. She suggested that women athletes are a better role model for women than supermodels. "There's an undervaluing of physical fitness and an overvaluing of absolute weight and appearance for women in our culture," Poag said.