Many of us could stand to lose a few pounds, but surely we’re not that overweight, right? Well, a new study from the University of Washington says that Americans — men especially — are in denial when it comes to their waistlines.

The study, based on surveys of Americans taken in 2008 and 2009, found that many claimed to be losing weight when they actually weren’t. In fact, the study says, the group’s obesity rate increased by half a percentage point during that period to 26.5 percent.

Men in particular were twice as likely to convince themselves that they were shedding pounds. Lead study author Catherine Wetmore isn’t quite sure why this is the case, but she thinks it may be related to pressure among women to stay slim.

“There could be a lot of reasons driving it,” said Wetmore. “I know it’s a stereotype, but I think women are more attuned to their appearance. And maybe it’s society’s pressure for women to be thin. Whatever the reason, you do see women doing a better job of keeping track of changes in their weight over time.”

Either way, Wetmore said, it’s important that Americans stop deluding themselves about their weight.

“The message we’re trying to drive home is that if Americans don’t accept the reality of their weight changes over time, they’re not going to be motivated to lose weight,” she said. “It’s important to be attuned to even small changes in body weight because over time they can really add up.”

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