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

    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

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

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  • Luther Green

    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

    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.

  • Good to hear this

  • PH_Girl

    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

    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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