Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Government Solutions For Obesity


Obesity is a crisis, we’re told, and it demands government regulation to fix. But as policies micromanaging our lifestyles are pushed across the nation, most Americans say that while they know they’re fat, obesity is a problem for individuals to solve.

According to a new Associated Press poll, three-quarters of Americans oppose government restrictions on what food they can buy – such as Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban, a majority of Americans oppose “fat taxes” being imposed on certain foods and while three-quarters of Americans consider obesity a serious problem, most believe it is a problem for individuals to solve, not the government.

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.

“That’s a start,” said Khadijah Al-Amin, 52, of Coatesville, Pa. “The fat content should be put up there in red letters, not just put up there. The same way they mark something that’s poisonous, so when you see it, you absolutely know.”

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 — like New York City’s recent ban of supersized sodas in restaurants — three-quarters say, “No way.”

“The outlawing of sugary drinks, that’s just silly,” said Keith Donner, 52, of Miami, who prefers teaching schoolchildren to eat better and get moving.
“People should just look at a Big Gulp and say, ‘That’s not for me.’ I think it starts when they are young and at school,” he added.

There is far too much faith put in the government’s ability to fix every problem presented it. And I do think obesity is a problem. I don’t think it’s the crisis some make it out to be, but it’s not a positive development in our society either.

But I also believe that the solution to obesity must come from Americans themselves. They – I should say we given my own girth – need to choose to be healthier. The government cannot wave its magic wand and make Americans live healthier lives any more than it was able to stop people from drinking alcohol. Or using recreational narcotics, for that matter.

“Very little good has ever been done by the absolute shall,” according to an anonymous clergyman quoted in Ken Burns’ excellent documentary Prohibition.

That’s a powerful insight.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Roy Blactstone

    Our goverment attempting to solve the obesity crisis is about as dim-witted as trying to spread democracy in Iraq!

    • Artie

      Absurd comparison. Not worthy of intellectual discussion.

      • kari

        Both are just really stupid. I can agree with that.

  • ndoldman

    The gov. can’t solve obesity in our society short of imposed starvation, as for most it is a matter of free will or liberty and that is the where the fear comes from, a Tyrannical Government and the way our elected reps have been acting it is becoming more likely.

    • $8194357

      They took control in the last century to the tune of 100’s of millions starved
      under state control…Frigging control freaks and ideologs…

  • awfulorv

    Alright, let’s forget the obesity but, concentrate on the results of obesity, that is to say Diabetes, which eventually leads to the amputations of extremities, and the costs that go with that scenario which is often borne by a govt. agency. Doctors will tell you there is an epidemic taking place throughout the world and obesity has been identified as the major contributor. On the other hand, what do the doctors know?

    • Mike

      That’s a personal choice with personal consequences of personal choices. Don’t make me responsible the consequences of someone else’s choices.

    • APforMVP

      More people die from poor medical care than from guns. Indeed it makes one wonder what doctors know.

  • Mike

    Obesity is its own cure.

  • WOOF

    The Real and Ideal

  • $8194357

    In my oil field days we said:
    Its all I own thats paid for….

    Now the government wants control of it as well.
    Nanny staters…..Go figure…

  • mickey_moussaoui

    The message is that Americans care more about getting fat than keeping their second amendment rights