Poll: Obesity as Unhealthy as Smoking
Most Americans Consider Obesity and Smoking to Be Just as Harmful
WebMD News Archive
July 26, 2007 -- Most Americans now consider obesity as risky to their
health as smoking.
A new Gallup Poll shows 83% of U.S. adults view obesity as very harmful to
one’s health, compared with 79% who said the same about smoking.
Researchers say the results reveal a new view of obesity’s health risks and
show that medical knowledge about the negative health effects of being
overweight has entered the American mind-set.
In fact, they say the message has come through so clearly that at this point
Americans are just as likely to say that being obese is very harmful as they
are to say the same thing about smoking, which has long been the target of
public health campaigns.
Changing Views on Obesity
The poll also showed that the vast majority of Americans are sympathetic to
those who are obese. Seventy-four percent of respondents said they were
sympathetic toward people who are obese compared with 21% who characterized
themselves as unsympathetic.
Researchers found very little differences between the responses of those who
considered themselves overweight or normal weight. However, men were slightly
more likely to say they were unsympathetic toward obese people than women
In contrast, the survey showed people were more likely to say they were
unsympathetic to people who smoked than people who were obese (21% vs.
Some of that sympathy might be coming from personal experience with the
unhealthy effects of obesity. The poll showed that 28% of Americans say that
obesity has been a cause of serious health problems in their family.
The poll was based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,001
U.S. adults, conducted July 12-15, 2007. The poll has a margin of error of plus
or minus 3%.