Currently browsing posts about: Regulation

Apr 10 2013

Why regulate? Because it works.

JAMA Pediatrics has just published the online version of a study by Daniel Taber et al, Association Between State Laws Governing School Meal Nutrition Content and Student Weight Status: Implications for New USDA School Meal Standards.

I wrote the accompanying editorial: School meals: A starting point for countering childhood obesity.

In it, I review how researchers like Taber et al are demonstrating how regulations aimed at changing the environment of food choice seem to be helping children and adults eat more healthfully.

That is why regulation is worth consideration.

The food industry cannot make significant changes on its own.  Food companies are beholden to stockholders and returns to investors.

We can’t count on consumer demand.  It’s up against the billions of dollars spent on food marketing, advertising, and lobbying.

It’s government’s role to level the playing field.

Studies like this one are beginning to show positive results.

If you take junk food and sodas out of schools, kids don’t eat as much of them and are healthier.  If you have strict nutrition standards for school food, the food is healthier and so are the kids.

This may all seem self-evident, but now we have research to prove it.

Government agencies should pay close attention and figure out everything they can do to make the food environment healthier for children and adults.

Jan 18 2013

Should sugar-sweetened beverages be regulated? NEJM readers vote yes.

As part of an interactive case study and point-counterpoint on regulation of sugar-sweetened beverages, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) conducted a poll of its U.S. and international readers.  The poll elicited responses from 1290 readers from 75 countries.

Overall, 68% of respondents favored government regulation.

High as this percentage is, the average is much lower than percentages from most countries as a result of one outlier—the United States.

Only 58% of U.S. voters in the poll favored regulation.  Everywhere else in the world, the percent in favor averaged 84%.

These results reminded me of change-in-sales figures from a few years ago:

Americans have reduced soft drink consumption, causing soda companies to focus their marketing efforts overseas.  Trends like these explain Coca-Cola’s new obesity ad campaign and Pepsi’s $50 million deal with Beyoncé. 

In America these days, 58% is an impressive majority.  NEJM readers are likely to be physicians, scientists, and health and health policy professionals. I suspect we will be hearing more about this idea.  Stay tuned for this one too.