Dishing Out Blame For Obesity’s Rise

We know diet and exercise have lots to do with determining our weight. But what’s the relative importance of such factors? In polling conducted for The Wall Street Journal Online’s Health Industry Edition by Harris Interactive, adults were asked to pick up to three “major reasons” for the rise in obesity. The factor cited by the greatest number of respondents (83 percent) was that “people do not exercise enough.” This easily exceeded the scores for “people eat too much fast food” (38 percent), “people consume too many calories” (34 percent), “food helpings are too big” (32 percent) and “people eat too much packaged and processed food” (31 percent). Just 8 percent said obesity is rising because “people eat too many carbohydrates.” Elsewhere in the survey, 55 percent said they’d favor a law requiring restaurant menus to disclose the sort of nutritional data (on calories, fat, etc.) that one finds on packaged foods. As you can see from the chart, many people regard commercials for food and drink as a bad influence. But given the importance respondents assign to exercise (or the lack thereof), perhaps the real problem is that consumers are watching so much television instead of running laps. In other words, a person who sits through dozens of commercials each day for health spas probably won’t be in such great shape, either.