Qualitative Research About Attributions, Narratives, and Support for Obesity Policy, 2008

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
Preventing chronic disease (Impact Factor: 1.96). 03/2011; 8(2):A39.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Successful efforts to reduce obesity will require public policy strategies that target both individuals and external factors such as social conditions, economic circumstances, and physical environments. Public opinion data suggest that many policy changes to reduce obesity are likely to face public resistance.
We conducted 4 focus groups involving 33 adults living in or near a midsized Midwestern city in July 2008. Participants were assigned to the focus groups on the basis of self-reported political ideology. We used a semistructured discussion guide to 1) better understand public perceptions of obesity and 2) assess the promise of narratives as a strategy to stimulate meaningful discussion about obesity-related policy change.
Participants viewed internal factors as primary causes of obesity. Despite substantial acknowledgment of external causes of obesity, many participants - particularly political conservatives - were resistant to external policy solutions for the problem. Across the political spectrum, participants responded more favorably to a short narrative emphasizing barriers to reducing adult obesity than a story emphasizing barriers to reducing childhood obesity.
This study provides a deeper context for understanding public perceptions about obesity. Some types of narratives appear promising for promoting support for policy solutions to reduce obesity.

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