Government Should Tackle Child Obesity, Most Americans Say

During adulthood, our bodies tightly regulate the number of fat cells, which could explain why it seems easy to gain back lost weight. (Image credit:

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.

Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.