Poll: Americans divided over government role in obesity fight

Associated Press


Everyone could use a little help keeping those New Year’s resolutions to slim down. But if it means the government limiting junk food, the response is an overwhelming “No.”

Americans call obesity a national health crisis and blame too much screen time and cheap fast food for fueling it. But a new poll finds people are split on how much the government should do to help — and most draw the line at attempts to force more- healthful eating.

A third of people say the government should be deeply involved in finding solutions to the epidemic. A similar proportion want it to play little or no role, and the rest are somewhere in the middle, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Require more physical activity in school, or provide nutritional guidelines to help people make better choices? Sure, 8 in 10 support those steps. Make restaurants post calorie counts on their menus, as the Food and Drug Administration is poised to do? Some 70 percent think it’s a good idea.

But nearly 6 in 10 people surveyed oppose taxes targeting unhealthy foods, known as soda taxes or fat taxes.

And when it comes to restricting what people can buy — such as New York City’s recent ban of supersized sodas in restaurants — three-quarters say, “No way.”

Despite the severity of the problem, most of those surveyed say dealing with obesity is up to individuals.

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