The most urgent health problem is…

Americans say health care access is the nation’s most urgent health problem, according to a new Gallup poll. That’s followed closely by the cost of health care and obesity.

About a quarter (23 percent) cited access to health care as the most urgent health problem, while 19 percent said cost and 16 percent said obesity. The number of people citing obesity is at an all-time high. In 1999, just 1 percent of Americans cited obesity.

Increasing concerns about obesity mirror the rising rates of the issue in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of adults who are obese doubled from 1980 to 2008. And Gallup and Healthways find obesity remains high as of the third quarter of 2012, at 26 percent.

But access and cost still top the list, despite the efforts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care, which aims to address both problems. But Gallup notes that might be in part because the law doesn’t fully go into effect until 2014.

[See PPACA’s 2013 provisions near implementation]

As part of that survey, Gallup asked Americans in an open-ended format to name the nation’s most urgent health problem. The survey was conducted Nov. 15-18.


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