Many U.S. consumers seem to be pretending that some of their debts are not really debt.

Researchers at Securian Retirement, an arm of Minnesota Mutual Insurance Companies Inc., St. Paul, Minn., have published that finding in a summary of results from a survey of 2,061 U.S. adult consumers.

About 46% refused to treat one type of debt, such as outstanding balances on credit cards or overdue utility bills, as debt, and 11% of the people with debt do not think of themselves as being in debt, Securian researchers report.

About 32% of the non-retired participants who appear to have debt said debt has forced them to cut back on retirement savings, and 52% of the retired participants said they were in debt when they entered retirement, the researchers write.

Only about 40% of the participants with debt said they had down more debt than they had accumulated during the previous 12 months.

The findings suggest that baby boomers and survey participants in their 60s and 70s who are still working may be more likely than they realize to enter retirement with debt, the Securian researchers write.