Obesity Politics and Policy

Rogan Kersh and James A. Morone

in The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736362
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Obesity Politics and Policy

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This chapter investigates U.S. public-policy responses to the obesity crisis, along with the complicated political debates swirling around the topic, and also addresses the principal elements contributing to the rise in obesity in the United States. Explanations for the rise of obesity are related to inactive lifestyle, and food and dietary practices. The chapter examines in detail three policies in the high-impact/high-feasibility category, all of which actually have been implemented in at least one U.S. jurisdiction, and also reports on public health researchers' evaluations of such policies. Public policies such as menu labels, soft-drink taxes, and reducing competitive foods in schools have each been promoted by health advocates as a promising means of addressing the obesity crisis among children. Once effective interventions have been determined and tested, health policy advocates face an even larger challenge: the long-standing American policy-making practices of incrementalism and “muddling through.”

Keywords: obesity; U.S. jurisdiction; menu labels; soft-drink taxes; competitive foods; health policy; political debates

Article.  6171 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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