New Poll: Credibility of Health Experts

05/25/2011 11:45 am ET
  • Jay Winsten Associate Dean, Harvard School of Public Health

A national opinion poll released today by the Harvard School of Public Health finds that a whopping 40% of Americans have little trust in the pronouncements of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on the obesity epidemic. A meager 19% say they trust the CDC’s pronouncements "a great deal"—the gold standard of credibility which, I think, the CDC needs to meet to fulfill its mission of protecting the public from serious health hazards. While the poll did not find evidence of further erosion in the credibility of experts associated with the recent controversy over the obesity epidemic, 52% of Americans say they have only “some” or “very little” trust in the advice that experts give people about weight control.

The CDC—and the scientific community as a whole—have their work cut out.