Region

Strategy or Action Plan

Source

Nordic

Health, Food, and Physical Activity. Nordic Plan of Action on Better Health and Quality of Life Through Diet and Physical Activity

Nordic Council of Ministers for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Agriculture, Foodstuffs, and Forestry; The Nordic Council of Ministers for Social Security and Health Care (2006)

Pacific

Obesity in the Pacific: Too Big to Ignore

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (2002)

75 percent of Americans view obesity as either an extremely serious or very serious public health problem (Blendon et al., 2005). The majority of Americans believe that scientific experts have been accurately portraying (58 percent) or underestimating (22 percent) the health risks of obesity, with only 15 percent believing that scientific experts have overestimated obesity-related health risks (Blendon et al., 2005). Other surveys have found that the public perceives obesity to be a growing threat to health (Evans et al., 2005, 2006; IFIC Foundation, 2006; Pew Research Center, 2006; Wall Street Journal Online and Harris Interactive, 2005, 2006).

Although there is more public support for certain interventions to reduce obesity, especially obesity among children and youth, the public’s support for such interventions as sending body mass index (BMI) report cards home to parents, requiring standardized food portions in restaurants, and regulating the advertising and marketing of less healthful foods and beverages is divided (Evans et al., 2005, 2006; Pew Research Center, 2006; Wall Street Journal Online and Harris Interactive, 2005, 2006).

Data from marketing research firms also suggest that Americans’ attitudes toward obese individuals are shifting from rejection to acceptance and that Americans may be more tolerant of heavier body types. The NPD Group’s National Eating Trends Survey found that 24 percent of 1,900 survey respondents indicated that overweight individuals were less attractive in 2005, whereas 55 percent of respondents found this to be the case in 1985 (Associated Press, 2006).

There may be a substantial difference in Americans’ perception of what constitutes healthy habits and what they actually do. A telephone survey of 12,000 adults found that three quarters of obese respondents described their eating habits as either “very healthy” or “somewhat healthy,” and nearly one-half of the survey respondents indicated they exercised three or more times weekly (Thomson Medstat, 2006).



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