Public Agenda Alert -- Thursday, June 12, 2014
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Is There Public Support for Federal Efforts to Curb Obesity?
Join Us for a Discussion on Immigration Reform
PA in the News
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Is There Public Support for 

Federal Efforts to Curb Obesity? 

Except for kids themselves, just about everyone wants children to eat more fruits and vegetables. Even so, there's been plenty of disagreement recently about what government can or should do to make that happen.



The school lunch dispute is one of several that have emerged when governments -- federal, state, and local -- move beyond their traditional role of providing nutrition education and try to take stronger steps to combat rising obesity rates.


Three-quarters of Americans say obesity and being overweight are very or extremely serious health issues facing the country. Spending proposals aimed at improving school nutrition, funding farmer's markets and bike paths, and listing calorie counts on menus attract broad public support.


But at the same time, preventing obesity ranks second to last on a list of 15 priorities for federal spending on health care.


In this month's Beyond the Polls, we look at this and other evidence that shows support for government action on obesity may be much softer than it initially appears. This apparent contradiction seems to boil down to the fact that many Americans don't believe prevention efforts by the federal government will hold much sway over individual behavior.


Still, our attitudes toward government efforts to curb smoking - another individual behavior - have changed, and in rapid fashion. Could unhealthy behaviors contributing to obesity be next? Click here to read our analysis of this issue

Join Us for a Discussion on What's Next for Immigration Reform

With Tuesday's defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, pundits are pessimistic about the future of immigration reform in Congress.


Still, the majority of Americans support the legislation that the Senate brought to Capitol Hill last year. In a poll from earlier this week, 62 percent of Americans favor providing a way for undocumented immigrants to become citizens, provided they meet certain requirements.


Immigration is a local issue as well as a national one. Here in New York, a state-level DREAM Act, first introduced 3 years ago, is at a standstill as the state Assembly and the Senate volley it back and forth.


What are our policy options for reforming immigration policy, both nationally and in the New York region? How viable are these options given public support and political dynamics? 




If you're in New York City, we invite you to join us Tuesday, June 17th, as Robert Siegel and Maria Hinojosa help us navigate these complex questions. This event is part of our policy breakfast series with the CUNY Graduate Center. Registration is required in order to attend, and you can register here. Hope to see you there!

PA in the News

A collection of stories citing work from Public Agenda and our Board and partners.

(Next City) 
In a meeting on participatory budgeting with the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy that focused on studying research methods, PA's Will Friedman noted "while people are sharing research instruments to some extent, at this point, it's still a fairly loose process." See if there is a participatory budgeting project in your neighborhood here.  

(Digital Journal) 
This article on perceptions of online education cites our research with employers and community college students, "Not Yet Sold"
(The Chronicle of Philanthropy)
Chris Gates, Director of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) and a member of Public Agenda's Board of Directors, discusses forthcoming research with foundation executives and nonprofit leaders on accountability and transparency. Gates and Brad Rourke of the Kettering Foundation say that "it's time to engage" in conversations with the public to improve relationships and demonstrate respect.

(The Daily Show)  
Chairman of Common Good and Public Agenda Board Member Philip K. Howard spoke with Jon Stewart on Monday about how the shackles of bureaucracy in government are keeping people from making good judgments. Watch the extended interview here
About Us
Public Agenda is a nonprofit organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate complex, divisive issues. Through nonpartisan research and engagement, it provides people with the insights and support they need to arrive at workable solutions on critical issues, regardless of their differences. Since 1975, Public Agenda has helped foster progress on K-12 and higher education reform, health care, federal and local budgets, energy and immigration. Find Public Agenda online at

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