Field Poll Finds Most Californians Think Childhood Obesity a Serious Problem
Ninety-two percent of Californians consider childhood obesity a serious problem and as important a health concern as illicit drug use, according to a Field Poll released Wednesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The telephone poll of 1,068 California residents was funded by the California Endowment. Eight of 10 respondents said the problem of obesity has worsened over the past five years, at a faster rate than other health threats to children, including illicit drug use and unsafe sex. Twenty-seven percent of California children are considered overweight and another 40% are considered unfit, according to the Chronicle (Severson, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/31). Obesity rates in the last 10 years have tripled among California teenagers, according to the Oakland Tribune. About two-thirds of those surveyed said that fast-food restaurants should list nutritional information on their menus, and 83% of respondents said public advertising campaigns should focus on how ads for children's food influence eating habits. Of those surveyed, 96% said they want better enforcement of school requirements to educate students on nutrition and physical health. In addition, 92% responded that physical education should be required throughout high school. State law requires a certain number of hours of physical education, but many schools do not enforce the requirement because of budget cuts, the Tribune reports. Parents, women and Latinos accounted for most of the more than 50% of respondents who said they would likely support a ban on junk food ads aimed at children. Two-thirds of all respondents said advertising "contributes greatly" to childhood obesity (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 3/31). Arnell Hinkle, executive director of the California Adolescent Nutrition and Fitness Program, said, "We now have some ammunition to use when we go to the lawmakers and say, 'Look, we have wide support for some of this stuff'" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/31).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.