203172 Public opinion towards policy measures related to childhood overweight and obesity in the European Union

Monday, November 9, 2009: 10:45 AM

L. Suzanne Suggs, PhD, CHES , Institute of Communication and Health, UniversitÓ della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
Chris McIntyre, PhD , UniversitÓ della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
Joan E. Cowdery, PhD , School of Health Promotion and Human Performance, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI

The purpose of this paper is to examine differences among EU countries in terms of public support for policy approaches to childhood overweight and obesity in the European Union. A variety of policy approaches have been proposed to address such as health promotion campaigns restricting television commercials aimed at children, and higher taxes on unhealthy food. This is a complex policy problem because proposals cut across EU, national, regional and local jurisdictions within EU member states.


The data for this study were obtained from the 2005 Eurobarometer that includes the 25 EU member countries (plus four acceding and candidate countries: Bulgaria and Romania, Croatia and Turkey). The data set contains 28,694 cases ranging between 500 and 1557 participants per country. Differences in support for policy options between EU countries are examined using univariate statistics and logistic regression.


Support for policy measures to improve children's diets was examined. More information for parents was the leading choice with approximately 40% in the full EU sample. More education about healthy eating was preferred by 20% and restricting advertising and promotion of junk foods aimed at children was supported by 13%. The other policy item focused on measures to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. More physical activity in schools had the greatest support (37%) and ranged between 12.4% and 69.7%. Support was evenly distributed among the other policy options. The implications of public opinion on health policies will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe public opinion towards policy options to address overweight/obesity in Europe. 2. Describe differences in support between European countries. 3. Describe the effects of residency in European countries on public opinion about overweight/obesity policy options. 4. Discuss the implications of public opinion about health policies on program and policy decisions.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a faculty researcher who has a track record in research and program development in weight management health communication. I have a PhD in Health Studies and am CHES.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.