The Imperative of Changing Public Policy to Address Obesity

Christina A. Roberto and Kelly D. Brownell

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

  The Imperative of Changing Public Policy to Address Obesity

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This chapter discusses the responsibility of changing public policy to address obesity. The understanding of obesity as an issue of personal responsibility has led to weak government action. The chapter notes that the environment is the major force underlying the obesity crisis and then addresses school food environments, food access and cost, sugared beverage consumption, food marketing, and restaurant food nutrition content and portion size. Comprehensive bans on advertising are difficult to develop, given the range of ways in which foods are advertised, such as on the Internet and through videogames. Menu labeling could promote healthier food choices when dining out. Public health policies that target the school food environment, issues of access and cost of foods, sugar beverage consumption, food marketing, restaurant food nutrition content and portion size can have far-reaching effects in curbing the obesity epidemic and in improving the world's diet and health in cost-effective ways.

Keywords: obesity; public health policies; personal responsibility; school food; food access; beverage consumption; food marketing; restaurant food nutrition; portion size; menu labeling

Article.  9308 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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