The September 2011 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s
research and policy journal, Preventing Chronic Disease, features a special
section dedicated to “Ethical Issues in Interventions for Childhood Obesity,”
where contributors with Public Health Law & Policy, Yale University’s Rudd
Center for Food Policy & Obesity, and other organizations discuss how best to
balance government’s public health role with private rights and interests. In
particular, the section includes articles that explore (i) strategies to limit youth
food marketing in municipal spaces not already regulated by federal agencies;
(ii) an ethical framework for evaluating popular policies, such as menu calorie
labeling and soft drink taxes; (iii) perspectives from the Arkansas Act 1220
of 2003, “the first comprehensive legislative initiatives to combat childhood
obesity”; (iv) ethical family and school interventions; and (v) the economic
rationale for government intervention.

“During the past decade, people throughout the country—from rural
communities to the White House—have joined efforts to promote change.
The growth of the movement to prevent childhood obesity is impressive and
inspiring, but we still have far to go,” writes Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Senior Program Officer John Govea in the issue introduction, which notes a
surge in recent local, state and federal efforts to tackle childhood obesity. “The
articles presented in this collection address a selection of the most important
and understudied aspects of childhood obesity interventions, the ethical
implications of what we recommend or implement.”

Meanwhile, the Lancet has also released a four-part series focused on “the global obesity pandemic: its drivers, its economic and health burden, the physiology behind weight control and maintenance, and what science tells us about the kind of actions that are needed to change our obesogenic environment.” To this end, the final paper identifies “several cost-effective policies that governments should prioritize,” such as improvements to the food and built environments, cross-cutting leadership and monitoring actions, and increased funding for prevention programs. “Increased investment in population obesity monitoring would improve the accuracy of forecasts and evaluations,” conclude the paper authors. “The integration of actions within existing systems into both health and non-health sectors (trade, agriculture, transport, urban planning, and development) can greatly increase the influence and sustainability of policies. We call for a sustained worldwide effort to monitor, prevent, and control obesity.”

About The Author


For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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