Research article| Volume 32, ISSUE 1, P44-51, January 2007

Employer and Healthcare Policy Interventions Aimed at Adult Obesity


      Increasing rates of obesity in the population have made prevention a high public health priority. Policy strategies for curtailing obesity have been recommended, yet there has been little research on the degree of public support for policy-level interventions.


      Participants for this study included 1139 respondents who were surveyed as part of the Research Triangle Institute Obesity Telephone Survey conducted in September 2004. Participants were asked to indicate to what degree they favor specific healthcare and work policy strategies for treating and preventing adult obesity. Participants were also asked about their beliefs regarding the causes of obesity.


      A majority (85%) favored a policy change strategy that offered employers tax breaks if they provided adequate exercise facilities in the workplace. Seventy-three percent favored a move by healthcare companies to require obesity treatment and prevention. The same proportion (72%) favored beneficiary discounts by employers or healthcare companies to motivate individuals to maintain or move toward a healthy weight. Majorities endorsed a lack of willpower and the cost of healthy food as causes. Nearly two thirds did not believe genes or lack of knowledge was related to obesity in society, and the sample was split with regard to the belief that obesity is caused by society.


      The findings suggest that there is strong support for healthcare and employment policies in obesity prevention and treatment. These findings may be important to policymakers in developing population-based strategies to prevent obesity.
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