It’s Not a Small World After All: Regulating Obesity Globally

29 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2009 Last revised: 19 Jan 2014

See all articles by Eloisa C. Rodriguez-Dod

Eloisa C. Rodriguez-Dod

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law


It’s Not a Small World After All: Regulating Obesity Globally explores the prevalent problems of overweight and obesity among adults in various countries and the creative measures local and national governments are implementing to curtail this costly and life-threatening epidemic. Extreme measures include the Chinese government denying the obese adoption rights and Japan mandating that employers measure employees’ waist lines. Less drastic measures can be found in the City of Jerusalem, which placed solar-powered scales in select locations and is considering making walking paths with exercise machines. New York City’s calorie counting legislation is on the front line of the battle against obesity, requiring restaurants to display calorie information on menus. Following New York City’s lead, over half of the states have considered or implemented laws with various applicability limiting trans-fat in restaurant food. The European nations, through voluntary programs, have attempted to attack advertising techniques aimed at over-eating. South Los Angeles has even tried temporarily banning new fast-food establishments. However, some measures seem to tip the scales, such as Mississippi’s proposed legislation to prohibit restaurants from serving the obese, a bill that was quickly denied.

Critics are in abundance, arguing that the government should not intrude on such a private choice as overeating. They question whether these governmental measures actually lower the obesity and overweight rates. Preemption-based lawsuits have depicted the issue of which level of government should be allowed to regulate. Yet another source of disagreement is exactly how a government should combat obesity, considering this problem hinges on such a personal choice; this article explores zoning restrictions, education-enhancing legislation, penalizing individuals and entities, voluntary programs, and financial incentives. The author explains that legislation aimed at educating the public, through information or wellness programs, seems to be the least costly and seemingly most effective way to curb obesity.

Keywords: government regulation of obesity, foreign government measures to control obesity

JEL Classification: K10, K32

Suggested Citation

Rodriguez-Dod, Eloisa C., It’s Not a Small World After All: Regulating Obesity Globally. Mississippi Law Journal, Vol. 79, p. 697, 2010, NSU Shepard Broad Law Center Research Paper No. 09-014, Available at SSRN:

Eloisa C. Rodriguez-Dod (Contact Author)

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law ( email )

11200 SW 8th St.
RDB Hall 1097
Miami, FL 33199
United States


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