Government Should Tackle Child Obesity, Most Americans Say

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Parents should not bear the sole responsibility for preventing obesity in their children — the government should help, most Americans say.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans say the government should play a significant role in reducing childhood obesity , while 39 percent say it should not, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Those who support the Tea Party movement were among those most likely to oppose governmental intervention in the matter.

Childhood obesity has skyrocketed in recent years — tripling over the last three decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among children ages 6 to 11, the prevalence of obesity rose from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008.

Seventy-one percent of people who identified themselves as Democrats said the government should have a significant role in combating childhood obesity, while 57 percent of independents,  41 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Tea Party supporters said the same.

Eighty-three percent of Hispanics said the government should play a significant role, compared with 74 percent blacks and 49 percent of whites.

Sixty-nine percent of those under 30 said the government should play a major role in thwarting childhood obesity, compared with 45 percent of those over 65.

But in general, Americans don’t think the obesity epidemic should be high on the government’s to-do list. The issue ranked the lowest among 22 others in a previous Pew poll asking Americans which policies they consider to be a “top priority.” Only 19 percent said tackling obesity should be a top priority, compared with 87 percent who said strengthening the economy should be a top priority of the government.

The results were based on a survey conducted between Feb. 22 and March 1 that interviewed 1,504 adults, 18 years of age or older who live in the continental United States.

Pass it on: The majority of Americans think the government should play a significant role in tacking childhood obesity.

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