Obesity: Americans want less government on the menu

November 13, 2013, 7:26 PM GMT+0

Americans tend to oppose the federal government playing a major role in cutting obesity rates, but there is support for stricter labelling and calorie count rules.

This month the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a decision to limit trans fats use in foods by requiring producers to justify each specific use of transfats in their products. This is an attempt to keep Americans healthier as trans fats have been shown to raise cholesterol levels, increase fat content in the blood stream - both of which significantly increase chances of heart disease. Trans fats are used in many processed and fast foods to improve shelf life and at times to "provide texture".

According to the latest YouGov research, only about a third of all Americans support the government taking on a major role in reducing obesity among children and adults. While a majority of Democrats think that the government should play a significant role, most Independents and Republicans do not. All partisan groups were slightly less enthusiastic about government involvement when asked about reducing obesity among adults.

Though there is a sizable partisan divide over theoretical government involvement, some government policies concerned with unhealthy eating habits are supported across the board. A majority of Americans support requiring restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus, prohibiting the use of trans fats in food, and labelling foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). However, policies banning large sugary drinks, and prohibiting the use of trans fats each had at least a 17% partisan gap, with more Democrats supporting them than Republicans.

For the most part, Americans know the difference between "good fats" and "bad fats". Unsaturated fats, along with "omega-3's" go into the 'good' fats category, as they have health benefits that include better nutrient absorption, faster nerve transmissions and making nails, skin and hair, healthier. While a majority of Americans understand that saturated fats (65%) and trans fats (67%) are bad, many were unsure about monosaturated, and polyunsaturated fats.

Banning trans fats from resturants may be a good first step in helping lower the number of obese Americans. Just over one third of Americans are obese, the approximate percentage is 37.5%, the average guess was 42%. Women, Republicans and those aged 45-64 overestimated to the greatest degree, with their average guesses at 44% and 45% obese. Men (39%), and those aged 30-44(36%) were the closest to the actual number. However, America isn't the only country taking measures towards healthier lifestyles. Russia, creatively, has created a scheme that accepts 30 squats as payment for a ride on the Moscow Metro.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Google.

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