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Sharp Partisan Divide Over Government Role in Fighting Obesity, Poll Finds

3 years ago
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The campaign against obesity launched just over a year ago by Michelle Obama has attracted its share of criticism and derision from conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Michele Bachmann.

Bachmann accused the first lady last month of trying to create a "nanny state" because of her proposal to encourage breastfeeding as a way to reduce the childhood obesity problem. Palin told conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham last November, "What [Mrs. Obama] is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat." And Limbaugh recently called her a hypocrite for preaching good nutrition habits but tucking into a meal of chili short ribs on a recent skiing trip.

(Not all conservatives share those negative views. On some of the Sunday talk shows last month, Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie, both politicians who have wrestled with their own weight problems, defended Mrs. Obama's anti-obesity efforts).

But a new Pew Research Center poll, conducted Feb. 22-March 1, makes clear that Republicans and adherents of the tea party movement are strongly against government involvement in efforts to tackle weight issues.

Americans overall support a "significant role" for government when it comes to reducing obesity. Fifty-seven percent say the government should be involved compared to 39 percent who disagree, with 3 percent undecided. That said, the public does not think the fight against obesity should be a top government priority, with only 19 percent of those surveyed saying that it should.

However, 57 percent of Republicans say the government should not be involved, and the percentage is a little higher among those who describe themselves as conservative (61 percent).

Sixty-five percent of those who agree with the tea party movement say the government should not play a role.

Seventy-one percent of Democrats favor a government role, as do 57 percent of independents.

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23 Comments

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smapplebee

With so many people out of work, most families are stretching the food budget as much as possible. McDonalds,
Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway, Arby's and Wendy's are one block from my house. Their parking lots are empty. No one is buying fast food because they cannot afford it. The Obamas should be pleased. Food prices have sky-rocketed along with the gas to get there. Educating parents about nutrition does not put money in your pocket to buy it.

March 20 2011 at 11:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Donna

Mrs. Obama isn't trying to police peoples bad decisins in food buying she is only suggesting people be more careful about what they put in their mouth. It only shows the ignorance of some.to think it is more. By the looks of some I have seen, especially south of the border, It wouldn't hurt to listen to some of what she has said.

March 13 2011 at 8:54 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
e33

If the parents can't properly feed their children, the government should step in and take the children away. No child should have to live with overweight parents who don't have the first clue on how to feed themselves. All they know is "More"

March 09 2011 at 6:38 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to e33's comment
ialbel

This is the saddest comment I have ever read on any site. Who will keep an eye on all the parents in America? Who will put the data in a file? Who will rip this child from the parents? Wait until they come for you because of some rule you don't understand or like. Some need to live in France where this thinking makes sense. If some stay in this country they end up working for the DMV.

March 09 2011 at 8:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tevroc143

Proof American children are getting so obese they will not live as long as their parents isn't enough for Republicans. Of course, if Laura had done this it would be just great. Oh well, Republicans should continue to feed their children on junk food and the rest of us will attempt a healthier diet. Then we shall see who lives the longest.

March 09 2011 at 5:04 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
tistolaugh

It is 100% unrealistic for the govt to believe they can control what people eat in their private lives unless they are willing to turn America into a communist dictatorship. There is nothing wrong with healthy eating promotional campaigns. Other than that, America's govt needs to get our of our private lives and stay out.

March 09 2011 at 4:52 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
balticstein

that's the dems for ya, always wanting to be big brother!

March 09 2011 at 4:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Josh

Great! Another non-story to distract us from the real issue. Do any of you people really believe parents feed their children fast food because they 'want to'? Try to 'buy healthy' on an average American family's budget. See how far that gets you and THEN think about what role the gov't should be playing in this.

Hint: it's at the production level not the consumer level.

March 09 2011 at 12:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
exnyorker

The unfortunate issue in America today is IGNORANCE. The LACK of KNOWLEDGE and the DISSEMINATION of DISTORTED INFORMATION by folks with their OWN PERSONAL AGENDAS do a DISSERVICE to AMERICANS. For EXAMPLE: Do Americans realize that there IS a difference between FAST Food and JUNK Food? One can purchase food at FAST FOOD outlets without buying JUNK FOOD. And JUNK FOOD can be purchased in places that are NOT FAST FOOD outlets. Wow- I think explanations are a bit too difficult for most Americans to understand. Regardless, those that PROMOTE and ENCOURAGE HEALTH LIFESTYLES through EXERCISE and Good NUTRITION, Should Be COMMENDED.

March 09 2011 at 10:06 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to exnyorker's comment
balticstein

they forgot about Jarred and the subway commercial

March 09 2011 at 4:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
rockywalter2327

Maybe the question should be, " Should the government have a role in protecting children from their parents?". If children are dieing because of illnesses related to obesity (ie: heart disease, adult diabetes) and parents refuse to address the obesity, what would you have the government do, nothing? Come on naysayers, you know many parents aren't being responsible. That's evident when you go out in public places and see children who are wider than they are tall. I would even venture to say you saw the child and said to yourself, or others, 'those parents really need to do something'.

March 09 2011 at 8:27 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rockywalter2327's comment
ialbel

While on the surface it would appear your arguments are reasonable, I suggest we look at the basic premise. At what point does ice cream become illegal? At what point do parents have to take an exam to raise their children? Does anyone remember the book 1984? Isn't the age of government intrusion coming to pass? Big Brother has arrived and will tell us what to believe, what to eat, what to think and what to obey. Free choice is being dictated by government which means someone somewhere will make decisions about our lives and put those decisions into a file. What happens next says we are not free. And finally - What sort of people are in charge of this endeavor? Ayn Rand said, "A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others." She also wrote, "Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men." And, "Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives."

March 09 2011 at 10:12 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
John Vilvens

Michele Obama wants to educate people on what is good for them and what is not that is fine. When government wants to tell people what to eat there is a problem. When government want to add tax on somethjing because they feel people should not eat it there is even a bigger problem. Michele was not elected and should not be trying to make laws and dictate to people. She want to educate people on issues that is fine. But she should not have any power to dictate or control anything. Which branch of the government is the first lady in?

March 09 2011 at 7:41 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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