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Majority of Americans Favor Public Policy Changes to Prevent Adult Obesity

Armen Hareyan's picture

Change to fight Obesity

Americans would overwhelmingly support public policies designed to decrease the prevalence of adulthood obesity in the United States, according to a national survey led by a researcher from Duke University Medical Center.

"Our findings show that people are really in tune with the need to control adulthood obesity," said Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine. "In a particularly revealing result, people at all weight levels - normal, overweight or obese - expressed support for new polices."

The findings will appear in the January 2007 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Fuemmeler lead the research while he was employed at the National Cancer Institute. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers polled 1,139 people by telephone in September 2004.

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Eighty-five percent of respondents said they would support giving tax breaks to employers who made sufficient exercise spaces available to employees.

Seventy-three percent said they would support government incentives for companies that reduce the cost of health care insurance for employees who adopt healthier lifestyles and shed extra weight.

Seventy-two percent said they would support government policies requiring insurance companies to cover subscribers for obesity treatment and prevention programs.

Study findings may prove useful to employers and policy makers designing strategies to curtail the obesity epidemic, Fuemmeler said.

Thirty percent of Americans age 20 or older -- approximately 60 million people -- are obese, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 1998, the last year for which the CDC has data, Americans collectively devoted approximately 9 percent of all their spending on medical care to problems related to being overweight or obese.

Other researchers who participated in the study were Charlie Baffi, Louise C. Masse, Audie A. Atienza and W. Doug Evans, all of the National Cancer Institute.