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The LA Times (March 4, 2013) reported on an interesting recent survey conducted by health policy experts at Harvard. The findings overwhelmingly public support for the “new frontier” prevention initiatives of the CDC’s public health agenda, for example, those that focus on changing the health behaviors responsible for the three leading causes of death (tobacco 18.1%, inactivity/poor nutrition 16.6%, and alcohol use 3.5%).
Seventy percent or more of the 1800 respondents supported efforts to change behaviors to reduce cancer, heart disease, childhood obesity, tobacco use, and alcohol consumption. More than 80% were positive about legislation to require calorie counts of items on menus and restrict sales of super-size sodas, making fruits and vegetables more affordable, teaching children about health risks of obesity, and requiring 45 minutes of physical education daily. Seventy-three percent also said the government should make nicotine patches available at no cost. Respondents were less supportive of measures seen as coercive or punitive such as charging a $50 insurance penalty for obese persons and/or measuring body mass index of school students.
These findings indicate a high potential for acceptance of more community education and behavioral change interventions focused to improve health outcomes. This data would support increased use of health messengers in all communities such as would be implemented by volunteer health professionals guided by a National Nurse for Public Health.