by Marion Nestle
Apr 4 2014

Government policies to reduce obesity: suggestions for action

Thanks to all who commented on my April 1 (not a joke) post on inadvertant government policies that promote obesity.

Thanks in particular to Joshua De Voto who forwarded a link to the Sean Faircloth article that kicked off this discussion.

What’s remarkable about the list of items is that they constitute a policy agenda for health promotion.  Just turn them around:

  • Subsidize development of trails and sidewalks in cities and communities.
  • Pass zoning laws that encourage foot and bicycle traffic.
  • Provide nutrition information in fast food and other restaurants (fingers crossed that the FDA will eventually get on this).
  • Require physical education, nutrition, and cooking classes in schools.
  • Ban marketing of junk foods to children.
  • Ban marketing of junk foods in schools (USDA is trying to do this).
  • Subsidize production of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Subsidize healthy foods in programs for poor people.
  • Eliminate corporate tax deductions for marketing.
  • Permit lawsuits against food companies.

I can think of other policies well worth promoting.

Please add to the list!


  • Tess @ Tips on Healthy Living
  • April 4, 2014
  • 2:43 pm

Making healthier foods more affordable is one of the most important things we can do. How can we expect people to eat healthier when a bag of chips costs less than fresh fruit? Anyway, great post!

  • SW
  • April 4, 2014
  • 3:34 pm

Support policies that make it easier for parents to spend time with their children, as well as buy and prepare food

[…] Government policies to reduce obesity: suggestions for action […]

  • Luther Green
  • April 5, 2014
  • 8:55 am

I would suggest that any encouragement for creating window box gardens, porch container gardens, kitchen gardens, community gardens, and on-farm work opportunities would strengthen both nutrition and exercise goals, as well as enhancing food system resilience.

  • Ashley Galloway
  • April 5, 2014
  • 9:49 am

That is what the following would provide:
*Subsidize production of fresh fruits and vegetables
*Subsidize healthy foods in programs for poor people

Offering new moms some simple nutritional lessons (they can learn online or with the hospital dietitian) at benchmark check ups during their pregnancy, could be a policy that helps reduce obesity. Often having a baby is a turning point because it really is a fresh start for a new life.

As well, for many people it is harder to let other people down (your baby) than yourself, so you’re reaching people at a time they are more open and motivated for change. The other benefit of inspiring moms is that the change can affect a group of people (the family) rather than just one person and instill healthy eating habits in kids from the get-go.

  • Lasik
  • April 6, 2014
  • 2:54 pm

Good to hear this

  • PH_Girl
  • April 6, 2014
  • 7:29 pm

Raise the minimum wage to a level that would enable average working families to buy the types of foods that are good for health- this would be especially helpful in bigger cites where rent alone is often 40-50% of income, very little money left for any foods besides cheap, processed foods.

  • Lou Wei
  • May 11, 2014
  • 11:36 pm

I just wanna say thanks for all your suggestions about the obesity policy its a big help for the poor people. I hope government will see this suggestions in order them to know what netizens concerning about this obesity issue.

I really appreciate this post!

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