New Poll Defines American Attitudes About Exercise and Obesity

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Debunking the stereotype that obese people are apathetic about losing weight and being more active, 71 percent of obese Arkansans would like to become more physically active and improve their health, and 58 percent of that group would like to do so on their own.

These statistics, along with other key findings, are results from a survey on lifestyle behaviors and current health status of Arkansans conducted by the America On the Move Foundation, a national non-profit dedicated to helping individuals and communities across the country improve health and quality of life.

The statewide survey, administered by Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, polled a representative cross-section of 1,000 adult Arkansans and serves as a benchmark that underscores how Arkansans view obesity and how they want to take action against this growing health crisis. Some of the key findings include:

  • 83 percent of adult Arkansans reported that they believe obesity to be a problem of poor eating and poor lifestyle habits
  • 95 percent of respondents reported that it is important to urge all Arkansans to live healthier lifestyles — the message of the Healthy Arkansas program
  • 54 percent of Arkansans expressed a strong interest in becoming more physically active
  • 65 percent reported they want to increase their physical activity "on their own" as opposed to turning to other sources for help, such as health clubs and faith or community-based organizations

"The health of our citizens is of utmost importance, and we must give people the resources they want and need to fight the epidemic of obesity," said Gov. Mike Huckabee. "This research is a reminder that most people truly want to make the lifestyle changes necessary to live a healthier life if they are given the right support."

According to the survey, 80 percent of Arkansans realize that health ailments related to obesity may cause health insurance costs to rise, part of the reason why 89 percent of respondents believe that obesity is either a "major" or "somewhat of a" public health problem.

"The good news from this research is that Arkansans understand the importance of obesity as a public health crisis, and those who are obese want to lose weight," the governor continued. "Our challenge is to make the right tools available to our citizens so that they can lose weight and get healthier."

America On the Move provides individuals, groups, schools and worksites with the tools they need to engage in ways to move more and eat more healthfully. America On the Move's science-based programs provide the support and tools that help individuals of all ages manage weight effectively through energy balance — a balance of energy in calories consumed with the amount of energy burned through daily activity. For more information, visit www.americaonthemove.org/.

This article originally appeared in the February 2006 issue of HME Business.

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