Americans blame too much screen time and fast food for fueling the nation's obesity epidemic, but a poll finds that they're split on how the government should help.(Photo: Damian Dovarganes, AP)
WASHINGTON -- A new poll finds that Americans blame too much
cheap fast food for fueling the nation's fat epidemic, but they're split
on how much the government should do to save them from themselves.
draw the line at policies that would try to force healthier eating by
limiting food choices, according to the poll by The Associated
Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
A third of people
say the government should be deeply involved in finding ways to curb
obesity, while a similar proportion want it to play little or no role.
The rest are somewhere in the middle.
A third of U.S. children and teens, and two-thirds of adults, are either overweight or obese.
three-quarters of Americans consider obesity a serious health problem,
most of those surveyed said dealing with it is up to individuals.
highlights the dilemma facing public health experts. Societal changes
over recent decades have helped spur growing waistlines. Regular-sized
food portions are larger, and a fast-food meal can be cheaper than
In the current environment, it's difficult to
exercise that personal responsibility, said Jeff Levi of the non-profit
Trust for America's Health.
"We need to create environments where
the healthy choice becomes the easy choice, where it's possible for
people to bear that responsibility," he said.
physical activity in school? Provide nutritional guidelines to help
people make better choices? Yes, 8 in 10 people surveyed support those
steps. Make restaurants post calorie counts on their menus, as the Food
and Drug Administration is poised to do? Some 70% think it's a good
But nearly 6 in 10 people oppose taxes targeting unhealthy foods, known as soda taxes or fat taxes.
when it comes to restricting what people can buy - like New York City's
recent ban of supersized sodas in restaurants - three-quarters oppose
"The outlawing of sugary drinks, that's just silly," said
Keith Donner, 52, of Miami, who prefers teaching schoolchildren to eat
better and exercise.
More than half of women say the high cost of
healthy food is a major driver of obesity, compared with just 37% of
men. Women also are more likely to say that the food industry should
bear a lot of responsibility for helping to find solutions.
activity is an important factor too. About 7 in 10 people said it was
easy to find sidewalks or paths for jogging, walking or bike-riding. But
63% found it difficult to run errands or get around without a car.
AP-NORC Center survey was conducted Nov. 21 through Dec. 14. It
involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,011 adults nationwide
and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage