Poll: Rural Californians back wide action to fight obesity

The vast majority of registered voters in rural California say obesity is a serious problem nationally and in their communities, and many say they wish business, government, community groups and individuals were doing more to fight the problem, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The survey, conducted by Field Research for the Public Health Institute, also found that rural voters from both political parties believe that government programs designed to keep peole healthy pay for themselves in the long run.

“California residents want their communities to be places that help them lead healthier lives,” Mary A. Pittman, president and CEO of the Public Health Institute, said in a statement.

Pittman noted that nearly 75 percent of health care spending goes to treat chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, many of which are linked to obesity.

According to the poll, 96 percent say doctors and nurses should be involved in preventing obesity, 91 percent say the local schools should be involved, 79 percent say food and beverage companies should play a role, 67 percent support employers being involved, and more than 65 percent believe local, state and federal government have some responsibility for helping to fight obesity.

Nearly 8 in 10 rural voters say that public spending designed to keep people healthy — such as building parks and promoting neighborhood safety — are cost effective because they prevent disease and reduce health costs.

The Public Health Institute supports a program known as Community Transformation Grants, which are part of the federal Affordable Care Act. The grants have gone to programs designed to make it safer for children to walk to school, make fresh drinking water available, and reduce exposure to second hand smoke.

The 12 counties surveyed were: Calaveras, Humboldt, Imperial, Madera, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Tulare and Tuolumne.

To see the full poll results, go here.

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