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Poll Suggests Majority of Americans Favor Public Policy Changes to Prevent Adult Obesity

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- 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.

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.

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