The Increasing Weight of Regulation: Countries Combat the Global Obesity Epidemic
35 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2014
Date Written: 2014
Obesity is a global epidemic, exacting an enormous human and economic toll. In the absence of a comprehensive global governance strategy, states have increasingly employed a wide array of legal strategies targeting the drivers of obesity. This article identifies recent global trends in obesity-related legislation and makes the normative case for an updated global governance strategy.
National governments have responded to the epidemic both by strengthening traditional interventions and by developing novel legislative strategies. This response consists of nine important trends: (1) strengthened and tailored tax measures; (2) broader use of counter-advertising and health campaigns; (3) expanded food labeling; (4) increased attention to the built environment; (5) expansion of bundled school-based strategies; (6) greater restrictions on advertising and marketing to children; (7) strengthened restrictions, standards, and bans on specific foods and food additives; (8) more targeted screening and brief interventions; and, (9) creative use of integrated programs to promote sustainable agriculture, environment and healthy food.
There remains a need to create a centralized, publicly accessible database of interventions. In addition, the scale of the obesity epidemic combined with the global trend toward more comprehensive regulation may for the first time create political space and will for an international obesity strategy.
Keywords: obesity epidemic, public health intervention, health initiatives, health policy, public health, health law
JEL Classification: K00, I1, I12, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation