The Gallup Poll found Americans see obesity as a more serious societal issue than cigarettes -- a change from 2005, the last time Gallup asked the question.
Fifty-seven percent of U.S. adults said they were equally likely to say it is extremely or very important to have federal government programs that address the health risks associated with obesity, and 55 percent said the same about smoking while 48 percent said the same about excessive alcohol consumption.
About 8-in-10 of Republicans, independents and Democrats agreed obesity is an extremely or very serious problem to society. However, while the vast majority of Democrats think it is extremely or very important to have federal government programs to address obesity, fewer than 30 percent of Republicans said the federal government needed to be involved.
First lady Michelle Obama's high-profile anti-childhood obesity campaign Let's Move!, which began in 2010, might have affected Americans' perceptions of the severity of the issue, Gallup officials said.
The telephone survey of 1,014 U.S. adults was conducted July 9-12. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
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