Obesity affects one third of Americans. And even though research proves it is caused by interactions between the environment and genetics, three-quarters of a new survey’s participants still think it results from a lack of willpower. “It’s frustrating to see doctors and the general public stigmatize patients with obesity and blame these patients, ascribing attributes of laziness or lack of willpower,” says obesity researcher Donna Ryan. “We would never treat patients with alcoholism or any chronic disease this way.”
Americans believe that obesity is the biggest health threat in the nation today – bigger even than cancer. But though scientific research shows that diet and exercise are insufficient solutions, a large majority say fat people should be able to summon the willpower to lose weight on their own.