On Climate Change, the Public May Not Support Changing Their Own Diet, But Would They Support Programs to Change Society's Diet?

In reaction to our BMC Public Health study published this month that examined the potential to re-frame climate change in terms of health, reader Stephanie Parent had this astute observation, one worth testing in follow up research.

I was jazzed to read your article "Maibach et al., Reframing climate change as a public health issue: an exploratory study of public reactions BMC Public Health 2010, 10:299" and learn of the Center for Climate Change Communication.

The discussion regarding Figures 4 and 5 struck an idea regarding how people did not respond well to the sentence about increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and reducing meat consumption. In comparing this sentence with the others, I noticed that the other sentences are societal or governmental actions to change land use or offer services, while the food consumption sentence is based on changing personal behavior, which people tend to be reluctant to change and feel their personal way of life and liberty is being attacked. While not quite the same, what if you reframe the sentence in a way that sounds more like a societal change rather than a personal behavior change to "Increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables and healthy food options to help people maintain a healthy weight, will help prevent heart disease and cancer, and will play an important role in limiting global warming."

It is food for thought.


The open access study is the second most read article at BMC Public Health over the past 30 days and has sparked some interesting debate and valuable feedback.

What do readers think? Should we hold off on emphasizing personal changes to diet until more engagement is done on the public health implications of climate change? Or are you (and the public) likely open to suggestions about societal changes in food availability and costs that lead to healthier diets and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions from food production?

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