California poll indicates overwhelming support for creating healthy environments for kids
This week, The California Endowment released the findings of a Field Poll surveying California voters. The results? Unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity top Californians’ list of the greatest health concerns facing kids. Nearly 3 in 4 voters (73%) believe that efforts to address this concern should involve not only kids and their families, but also the community at large—including schools, government, health care institutions, the food and beverage industry, and advertisement companies.
Some additional findings include:
- 97% of California voters said encouraging more physical activity for kids during regular school hours is important
- 96% said making healthy foods and drinks available to kids in schools is important
- 89% said it is important for the government to improve public safety so parents are more willing to let their kids use local parks and walk on neighborhood streets
- 81% said it is important for the food and beverage industries to change ingredients in their products to reduce fat and calories
- 62% would support a special fee on soda and other soft drinks if the money would go toward healthy eating and physical activity initiatives
These numbers are great news for advocates working on the ground. While the research has long supported the notion that changing community environments influences health, being able to couple evidence-based strategies with widespread public support creates a prime opportunity for moving policies and initiatives forward. Here are some ways you can take action now:
- Use these data to highlight the groundswell of support for community prevention –incorporate these data in your media pitches, online communications, and other advocacy efforts.
- Let your decision makers know that the public supports healthy food and activity initiatives. Make a phone call, send a letter, or set up a meeting with your local representative, and share these data as well as the outcomes of your food and activity-related policy work.
- The Field Poll results have received coverage in a number of outlets, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Contra Costa Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Modesto Bee, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Sacramento Bee. Use this opportunity to pen a letter to the editor or op-ed that ties these findings to a policy or initiative you’re working on.
Here are some talking points to help guide the conversation:
- Improving food and activity environments is a top priority for Californians. The public truly sees the value in investing in community-wide initiatives to promote health and well-being. In fact, 68% of those polled indicate that a “comprehensive program to prevent childhood obesity” would be worth it, even if it would cost billions of dollars a year. The findings are clear: safeguarding children’s health is a top priority in the state.
- Where you live matters. It’s not just public health professionals and advocates who believe that where you live, work, learn, and play is one of the most important factors determining whether you will be healthy. Ninety-two percent of Californians also maintain that the neighborhood where a child is raised matters when it comes to getting physical activity and eating healthy foods. And a solid majority— 60%—say it matters a lot. Yet many communities aren’t given a fair chance at health. When neighborhoods don’t have safe and accessible parks, places to walk, vibrant retail, or healthy food available, everyone’s health suffers. Policy changes that build healthy communities are critical to fostering greater health.
- Policy change is a key mechanism for addressing the concerns raised in the poll. Public health has a long, proud history of using policies to protect and promote health – from seat belt laws to regulating lead in paint. Policies that equitably increase access to healthy foods and opportunities for safe physical activity and play ensure that when it comes to leading healthy, active lives, kids and families don’t have the odds stacked against them.