Who is to blame for the rise in obesity?

Jayson L. Lusk, Brenna Ellison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We sought to determine who the public perceives as most contributing to the rise in obesity and to identify the determinants of such perceptions. A nationwide survey was conducted among 800 US individuals. Respondents were asked to place each of seven entities (food manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants, government policies, farmers, individuals, and parents) into three categories: primarily, somewhat, and not to blame for the rise in obesity. Eighty percent said individuals were primarily to blame for the rise in obesity. Parents were the next-most blameworthy group, with 59% ascribing primary blame. Responses fell along three dimensions related to individual responsibility, agribusiness responsibility, and government-farm policy. A number of individual-specific factors were associated with perceptions of blame. For example, individuals with a more statist score on the economic political ideology scale were more likely to blame the government and agribusiness for obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-20
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013


  • Ideology
  • Obesity
  • Public opinion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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