Attitudes of the public towards policies to address obesity

Date: 16 June, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-905767-44-1

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cover of reportKey points

  • Obesity and the related health burden is a growing problem in Ireland.
  • Understanding public attitudes to policy interventions is important, as it provides a key indicator of the potential effectiveness of interventions and the readiness of the general public for policy implementation.
  • The present research aimed to determine public acceptance of a range of policies to address obesity in Ireland. To this end, a survey of attitudes towards obesity-oriented policies among a nationally representative sample of the population of Irish adults was conducted.
  • Strikingly high levels of public support were evident for a wide range of obesity-oriented interventions.
  • The findings support prior research on behaviour change in key policy areas such as diet and smoking which demonstrates that support for interventions tends to decrease as the intrusiveness of interventions increases.
  • Consistent with previous research, socio-demographic factors only explain a small portion (2 - 6%) of the variance in policy support.
  • Overall, the findings indicate substantial public readiness for addressing obesity in Ireland, particularly through child-focused policies, informational measures, subsidies for healthy foods and co-operation between government and the food industry.