New Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust For America’s Health Poll on Childhood Obesity


Source: Al Quinlan and Drew Lieberman, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Gary Ferguson, American Viewpoint

Client: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust For America’s Health

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Survey Report (PDF - 4 K)

Executive Summary

The country’s obesity epidemic continues to worsen, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010, a report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Adult obesity rates increased in 28 states in the past year, and more than two-thirds of states (38) have adult obesity rates above 25 percent. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent.

Read the F as in Fat Report here

A recent survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and American Viewpoint finds that American voters' views on childhood obesity reflect the data in the report - 81 percent say that childhood obesity is a serious problem, and eight in ten agree that it is getting worse. These voters are optimistic about the future, however, and they show support for investing in preventing childhood obesity.

At the center of combating the childhood obesity problem is a belief that weight management and being healthy requires a balance between personal responsibility and community support. While voters clearly charge each individual or parent with the responsibility for keeping themselves and their children at a healthy weight, they at the same time acknowledge a role for government in providing access to physical education programs for kids, as well as information and resources that can help people make their own healthy choices.

Key Findings

  • Seventy-three percent say that preventing childhood obesity is an important priority for government to focus on, with 58 percent citing it as a very important priority.
  • A majority (56 percent) says that investing in a comprehensive program to combat childhood obesity is worth it, even if it would increase government spending by billions of dollars a year (and this during a difficult economic period in which many voters are largely hesitant to support more government spending).
  • Voters recognize that preventing childhood obesity carries a real return on investment, with 56 percent believing investing in preventing it will save us money. That said, more than six-in-10 support an investment in childhood obesity prevention regardless of whether it will save money or not.
  • Voters see an a urgency to the problem, demonstrated by the 50 percent who say that we should invest more in preventing childhood obesity right now, against 37 percent who say that although it is an important issue, we should wait until the economy improves before we invest more in preventing childhood obesity prevention.
  • There is optimism about the future - 61 percent of voters believe the childhood obesity epidemic is a problem we can solve within a generation, and they strongly support policies that invest in our kids and schools and increase access to physical education programs, information and resources that help people make healthy choices.

Methodology

These findings are based on a national survey conducted jointly by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and American Viewpoint. The survey of 1,200 registered voters included 20 percent cell phone interviews and was conducted April 22nd - May 2nd, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 2.8 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.