Community support for policy interventions targeting unhealthy food environments in public institutions

Leonie Cranney, Margaret Thomas, Megan Cobcroft, Bradley Drayton, Chris Rissel, Adrian Bauman, Philayrath Phongsavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Issue addressed: Understanding community support for obesity prevention policy is important for developing effective preventive health action. This study assessed support for a range of obesity prevention interventions, including food environment policies designed to improve healthy food and drink availability and promotion within public institutions. Methods: An online cross-sectional survey was completed by 2006 NSW adults. Questions explored attitudes and beliefs about obesity, the importance of government-led prevention and support for eight obesity prevention interventions. Regression analyses examined associations between intervention support and sociodemographic, attitudinal and behavioural characteristics. Results: Most respondents (80%) believed obesity was a large problem and that poor individual choices (86%) and the widespread availability of unhealthy food and drink (78%) contributed to the issue. There was moderate to high support for most (n = 7) initiatives. Support for food environment policies was highest for schools (76%-82%) and hospitals (67%-79%). Supporters and opponents rationalised opinions based on perceived effectiveness, the government's role and cost benefits. Opponents were a minority, but principles of autonomy were predominant. Attributing obesity to environment-related factors, and personal lower SSB consumption strongly predicted support. Conclusion: There is a significant recognition of the obesity issue and strong support for policies designed to improve the availability and promotion of healthy food and drink in public institutions, particularly in schools and hospitals. So what?: Substantial community support for healthy food environment policies in schools and hospitals warrants continued implementation in NSW. This may foster further acceptance for wider implementation. Our findings could inform the framing of policy advocacy messages.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Early online date18 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • advocacy
  • food environment
  • policy

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