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Improving Laws and Legal Authorities for Obesity Prevention and Control


Lawrence O. Gostin


Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law

Jennifer L. Pomeranz


Yale University

August 1, 2009

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 37, p. 62, Summer 2009
Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 10-79

Abstract:     
This is the second paper in a two part series on the laws and legal authorities for obesity prevention and control. In this paper, the authors present the applicable laws and legal authorities that public health professionals and lawyers can consider implementing to close the legal gaps identified in the first paper (“Assessing Laws and Legal Authorities for Obesity Prevention and Control”). This set of legal action items encompass the federal, tribal, state, local, and community levels and should be considered when developing, implementing, and evaluating obesity prevention and control strategies and interventions.

The paper organizes the action items within three key domains: healthy lifestyles, healthy places, and healthy societies. In the healthy lifestyles domain, the goal is to make the default environment one that fosters healthy lifestyles by making the healthy option the easier choice through actions such as altering farm subsidies to increase the affordability of healthy foods and the regulation of marketing practices targeting children. The healthy places domain recognizes that the surrounding community, workplace, and transportation options influence the ability to make healthy choices. Actions under this domain include the strategic use of zoning, the support of public transportation, and employer incentivization for healthy lifestyles at the workplace. The final domain of healthy societies addresses the complex societal causes and contributors to obesity, disparities, and discrimination. This domain includes actions such as the strengthening of public policies for school nutrition standards and increased physical activity, increasing access to health care (including preventative services), and addressing weight discrimination to ensure social justice and adequate care.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 15

Keywords: Public Health, Health Law and Policy, Obesity

JEL Classification: K00, K32, I10, I12, I18

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Date posted: December 21, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Gostin, Lawrence O. and Pomeranz, Jennifer L., Improving Laws and Legal Authorities for Obesity Prevention and Control (August 1, 2009). Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 37, p. 62, Summer 2009; Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 10-79. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1729227

Contact Information

Lawrence O. Gostin (Contact Author)
Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law ( email )
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9038 (Phone)
202-662-9055 (Fax)
Jennifer L. Pomeranz
Yale University ( email )
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
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