LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Child obesity is considered a very serious problem by nearly 60 percent of the registered California voters surveyed as part of a Field Poll released Tuesday, marking an increase from 46 percent eight years ago.

KCBS’ Melissa Culross Reports:

Seventy percent of those surveyed strongly support high school students being enrolled in gym for four years, and 61 percent strongly support keeping school athletic facilities open outside school hours.

The study was sponsored by The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation that focuses on underserved communities.

“Voters are saying that all California families deserve access to healthy, affordable foods and opportunities for physical activity, and they’re 100 percent right,” said Dr. Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of the endowment.

The telephone survey of 1,005 Californians was conducted in October and funded by endowment. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent.

Nearly one in three voters surveyed said unhealthy eating habits are the single greatest health risk facing California’s children, while another 15 percent identified a lack of physical activity as the greatest risk.

About half of those surveyed, 47 percent, said the average child is eating less healthy foods now than they were five years ago, while 18 percent said kids are eating healthier foods and 28 percent said there’s no change. The remainder had no opinion.

Only 9 percent of respondents said the average child is more active than five years ago, with 60 percent saying kids are less active and 24 percent seeing no change in activity level.

Parents in low-income communities consistently asked for more government intervention to create healthier environments, when compared to voters statewide.

— Asked if current laws should be expanded to ban the sales of all drinks with added sugar in schools, 34 percent of statewide respondents strongly support the action compared to 53 percent of low-income parents.

— Sixty-one percent of low-income parents strongly support banning all forms of junk food advertising in schools, compared with 44 percent of statewide respondents.

— Sixty-two percent of low-income parents strongly support government aid to supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods, compared to 32 percent statewide.

(© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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