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What's Law Got to Do With It? Part 1: A Framework for Obesity Prevention

Australia and New Zealand Health Policy, Vol. 5, No. 10, pp. 1-12, 2008

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09/13

13 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2009  

Roger Magnusson

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: March, 29 2009

Abstract

This article provides a conceptual framework for thinking about the role of law in responding to population weight gain in Australia. Part 1 focuses on two core questions. Firstly, in pursuing the aim of weight reduction at the population level, what should law be trying to influence? The challenge here is to identify a model of the determinants of obesity that is adequate for legal purposes and that illustrates the entry points where law could best be used as an instrument of public health policy. Secondly, what kinds of strategies and tools can law offer to obesity prevention? The challenge here is to identify a model of law that captures the variety of contributions law is capable of making, at different levels of government, and across different legal systems. In Part 1 of the article, I argue that although law can intervene at a number of levels, the most important opportunities lie in seeking to influence the social, economic and environmental influences that shape patterns of eating and nutrition across the population as a whole. Only policies that impact broadly across the population can be expected to influence the weight distribution curve that has shifted relentlessly to the right in recent decades. Part 2 of the article builds on this analysis by offering a critical review of selected legal strategies for healthier nutrition and obesity prevention.

Keywords: Public health law, Obesity, Chronic disease, Non-communicable diseases, Food regulation

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Magnusson, Roger, What's Law Got to Do With It? Part 1: A Framework for Obesity Prevention (March, 29 2009). Australia and New Zealand Health Policy, Vol. 5, No. 10, pp. 1-12, 2008; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 09/13. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1370165

Roger Magnusson (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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