Attitudes to publicly funded obesity treatment and prevention

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Aug;19(8):1580-5. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.84. Epub 2011 Apr 21.


The aim of this study was to investigate the Danish public's support for publicly funded obesity treatment and prevention. It was also examined whether levels of support could be explained by dislike of obese people and/or the belief that those who are obese are personally responsible for their condition. A representative survey of members of the Danish public (N = 1,141) was conducted using a web-based questionnaire. The survey was designed to assess attitudes to public funding for obesity-related health care, and to investigate the impact, on those attitudes, of dislike of obese people, the perceived controllability of obesity, self-reported BMI, and additional attitudinal and socio-demographic characteristics. Public funding of some obesity treatments, such as weight-loss surgery, attracted only limited public support. A majority of the Danish public did support "softer" treatment interventions and preventive initiatives. Attitudes to the treatment of obesity were clearly best predicted by the belief that individuals are personally responsible for their own obesity. Dislike of obese persons had no direct effect on the preference for collective treatment initiatives and only a small effect on support for publicly funded obesity prevention. The high level of disapproval for publicly funded obesity treatment should be cause for concern for decision makers aiming to ensure equal access to health care. Since it is the belief that obese people are personally responsible which explains this disapproval, strategies for challenging public opinion on this issue are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Data Collection
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics*
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / economics
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Perception
  • Prejudice*
  • Public Opinion*
  • Social Control, Informal*
  • State Medicine*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult