Failure of anti-obesity legislation
August 21st, 2012 by MorganDowney
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Christopher Still and I have a new article out, “Survey of antiobesity legislation: are these laws working?” Unfortunately, the answer is no. This finding is consistent with a paper earlier this year by Dr. Jeffrey Mechanick and last year’s Cochrane Review but contrary to the somewhat rose-tainted view of the Institute of Medicine’s recent report. Here is the abstract:
Obesity is well recognized as a major public health crisis throughout the USA. In recent years,governmental bodies at the federal, state and local levels have enacted policies intended to preventthe transition to obesity. Researchers have had the opportunity to study these policies and evaluate theirimpact on prevention of obesity.
Recent findings Most public policies have been directed principally, but not exclusively, to the prevention of obesity inschool-age children. Interventions have been directed to encouraging breast-feeding, to changing school lunches, limiting access to sugar-sweetened beverages, encouraging physical activity, changing thecomposition of competitive foods and affecting food advertising directed at children as well as collectingBMI information. Efforts more directed at adults include encouraging workplace wellness programs andimproving the nutrition label on packaged foods with front-of-package labels and caloric information on restaurant menus.
Summary For the most part, evaluations of the interventions reveal weak or modest benefits. The actual picture mightbe less positive due to the poor quality of research and publication bias. Push back by industry and otherswill require higher quality experimental and real world studies. All interventions fail to accommodate themultifactorial aspects of obesity.
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