Public attitudes towards prevention of obesity

Claudia Sikorski, Melanie Luppa, Georg Schomerus, Perla Werner, Hans Helmut König, Steffi G. Riedel-Heller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate obesity prevention support in the German general public and to assess determinants of general prevention support as well as support of specific prevention measures. Methods: This study was a cross-sectional analysis of a telephone based representative German study (3,003 subjects (52.8% women, mean age 51.9, s.d. = 18.0, range 18-97 years). Likert scale-based questions on general prevention support and support of specific measures were used. Furthermore willingness to take part in preventive programs and willingness to pay were assessed. Stigmatizing attitudes were assessed with the Fat Phobia Scale (FPS). Causation of obesity was differentiated in three dimensions (internal, e.g. lack of exercise; external, e.g. social surroundings; and genetic factors). Results: Obesity prevention was perceived as possible (98.2%), however, almost exclusively lifestyle changes were named. Participants with higher stigmatizing attitudes were less likely to believe obesity prevention is possible. The majority of participants would take part in preventive programs (59.6%) and pay at least partially themselves (86.9%). Factor analysis revealed three dimensions of preventive measures: promoting healthy eating, restrictive and financial, governmental prevention efforts. In regard to these, promoting healthy eating was the most supported measure. Higher age, female gender and external causation were associated with higher support for all three dimensions of preventive measures. Only for governmental regulation, higher age was associated with lower support. Conclusion: Obesity prevention support in Germany is high. Structural prevention efforts are supported by the majority of the general public in Germany. The vast majority proclaims willingness to pay themselves for programs of weight gain prevention. This could be an indication of higher perceived self-responsibility in the German system but also for risen "fear of fat" in the population due to media coverage. For Germany, the government and communities ought to be encouraged by these results to start the implementation of structural obesity prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere39325
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
StatePublished - 19 Jun 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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