Yes, people are even divided along political lines over how they view health issues such as obesity.
It turns out that people who lean towards the right politically tend to view obesity as being the result of someone’s eating habits and lifestyle choices. More liberal and left individuals – especially those who are overweight themselves – are far more likely to consider genetics as being the primary cause of obesity.
This according to a new study out of the University of Kansas.
“Self-reported overweight people were significantly more likely to believe obesity is caused by genetics than normal weight people,” said study author, Mark Joslyn, professor of political science. “The belief that obesity is due to genetics tends to remove blame. Obesity is not a choice, some would argue, but rather people are simply genetically wired to be obese. In this way, overweight people are motivated to believe in the genetics-obesity link. We found normal weight people were not so motivated.”
The issue is becoming politicized as political ideologies clash over policies designed to fight obesity. Laws about printing calorie counts on menus, banning free refills of sugary soft drinks, so-called junk food taxes are seen as important ways to encourage people to make healthier choices by one side – nanny-state interference in people’s lives by the other.
Conservatives who are more likely to assign individual blame for obesity are generally less supportive of government regulations intended to prevent it, say the report’s authors.
(Of course, what the research doesn’t mention is that if the primary causes of obesity are genetic and not lifestyle choices, then it’s unlikely that regulations intended to influence personal choices will solve the problem.)
Read the full report here.
This reminds me of growing up in Quebec where you’d hear a report about the latest crime numbers or murder rates for the year … and then the analysts would proceed to break down the numbers as to how many Anglophones vs. Francophones were involved in each and how the two groups perceived them. Because, at the time, everything had to be viewed through the lens of contrasting English and French communities. Now it’s left and right. Liberal and conservative.
So it goes. Here’s a look back at how most of the health rules you’ve believed your whole life are actually false.