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Poll finds majority of Californians' support policies to promote healthy eating, fitness among children


A Field Poll released this week shows that nearly 60 percent of California registered voters consider childhood obesity a serious problem, a 46 percent jump from eight years ago.

But even more surprising than the sizable jump in Californians' concern about childhood obesity were results indicating that a majority of respondents were supportive of policy proposals to make it easier for kids to be more physically active and eat healthier. According to the results (.pdf):

[Eighty-nine percent] support requiring physical education classes for four years in high school. A similar percentage (88%) favors requiring school gyms, tracks, playgrounds and fields to be open to children when school is not is session. The proportion backing the idea of cities making street improvements so that it is easier to bike, ride and walk also includes 87%.

Majorities of California voters also support changing school policies as a way to reduce unhealthy eating among kids: Sixty-eight percent of voters support enforcing laws that ban the sale of unhealthy food, snacks and drinks in the schools, 64% favor banning all advertising of unhealthy food, snacks and drinks in schools, and 61% endorse the idea of banning within the schools the sale of all drinks with added sugars.

The survey also finds two in three (64%) support providing government help to encourage more supermarkets to locate in low-income neighborhoods. A majority (56%) also favors establishing a special tax on the sale of soda and soft drinks with the moneys to be used to fight childhood obesity.

Sponsored by The California Endowment, the telephone survey of 1,005 Californians was conducted in October.

Cities such as San Francisco have already passed nutrition regulations for meals sold with toys - for example, the Happy Meal - and banned sugary drinks sold on city property. Do you think these new poll results will encourage policy makers to develop additional policies aimed at reducing obesity rates?

Photo by U.S. Army MWR

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