The Fund supports several networks of state health policymakers to help identify, inspire, and inform policy leaders.
The Fund identifies and shares policy ideas and analysis on topics important to state health policymakers, particularly on issues related to state leadership, primary care, aging, and total costs of care.
Keep up with news and updates from the Milbank Memorial Fund. And read the latest blogs from our thought leaders, including Fund President Christopher F. Koller.
The Fund publishes The Milbank Quarterly, as well as reports, issues briefs, and case studies on topics important to health policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund is an endowed operating foundation that publishes The Milbank Quarterly, commissions projects, and convenes state health policy decision makers on issues they identify as important to population health.
March 2009 (Volume 87)
Colleen L. Barry
Victoria L. Brescoll
Kelly D. Brownell
Milbank Memorial Fund
Back to The Milbank Quarterly
Context: Relatively little is known about the factors shaping public attitudes toward obesity as a policy concern. This study examines whether individuals’ beliefs about the causes of obesity affect their support for policies aimed at stemming obesity rates. This article identifies a unique role of metaphor-based beliefs, as distinct from conventional political attitudes, in explaining support for obesity policies. Methods: This article used the Yale Rudd Center Public Opinion on Obesity Survey, a nationally representative web sample surveyed from the Knowledge Networks panel in 2006/07 (N = 1,009). The study examines how respondents’ demographic and health characteristics, political attitudes, and agreement with seven obesity metaphors affect support for sixteen policies to reduce obesity rates. Findings: Including obesity metaphors in regression models helps explain public support for policies to curb obesity beyond levels attributable solely to demographic, health, and political characteristics. The metaphors that people use to understand rising obesity rates are strong predictors of support for public policy, and their influence varies across different types of policy interventions. Conclusions: Over the last five years, the United States has begun to grapple with the implications of dramatically escalating rates of obesity. Individuals use metaphors to better understand increasing rates of obesity, and obesity metaphors are independent and powerful predictors of support for public policies to curb obesity. Metaphorical reasoning also offers a potential framework for using strategic issue framing to shift support for obesity policies.
Author(s): Colleen L. Barry; Victoria L. Brescoll; Kelly D. Brownell; Mark Schlesinger
Keywords: obesity; metaphor; public opinion
Read on Wiley Online Library
Read on JSTOR
Volume 87, Issue 1 (pages 7–47) DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0009.2009.00546.x Published in 2009
Get the Latest from the Milbank Memorial Fund
The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.