How Law and Regulation Can Add Value to Prevention Strategies for Obesity and Diabetes
The University of Sydney Law School
October 27, 2011
A MODERN EPIDEMIC – EXPERT PERSPECTIVES ON OBESITY AND DIABETES, L. Baur, R. Magnusson, S. Twigg, eds., 2012
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/79
On my first day of law school, I was introduced to the law of contracts, and the law of torts. In five years of lectures, however, not once did I come across the “law of obesity prevention”. Hitherto, preventing obesity has never been considered part of the role of law or lawyers. Lawyers have never been called on to defend the role of law in obesity prevention, or to identify the content of a package of legal interventions having that goal.
Nevertheless, steadily rising rates of overweight and obesity among adults and children in Australia and elsewhere are fueling debate about the most effective and appropriate strategies for obesity prevention. This chapter defends a role for law in policy efforts to prevent obesity and to improve nutrition at the population level. Rather than targeting individuals and seeking to directly influence their dietary choices and patterns of physical activity, I argue that the best opportunities for law lie in improving the environment in order to support healthier choices and to reduce exposure to the wide range of factors that have made weight gain increasingly common. Secondly, this chapter presents four Australian case studies, with comparisons from the United States and Britain, to illustrate the variety of priority interventions that could take legal form.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 50
Keywords: law, non-communicable diseases, regulation, prevention, obesity, diabetes
JEL Classification: I10, I18, K10, K30, K32
Date posted: October 28, 2011