Halting the obesity epidemic: a public health policy approach

Public Health Rep. Jan-Feb 2000;115(1):12-24. doi: 10.1093/phr/115.1.12.


Traditional ways of preventing and treating overweight and obesity have almost invariably focused on changing the behavior of individuals, an approach that has proven woefully inadequate, as indicated by the rising rates of both conditions. Considering the many aspects of American culture that promote obesity, from the proliferation of fast-food outlets to almost universal reliance on automobiles, reversing current trends will require a multifaceted public health policy approach as well as considerable funding. National leadership is needed to ensure the participation of health officials and researchers, educators and legislators, transportation experts and urban planners, and businesses and nonprofit groups in formulating a public health campaign with a better chance of success. The authors outline a broad range of policy recommendations and suggest that an obesity prevention campaign might be funded, in part, with revenues from small taxes on selected products that provide "empty" calories-such as soft drinks-or that reduce physical activity-such as automobiles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advertising
  • Child
  • Energy Intake
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Food Industry
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Priorities
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • National Health Programs*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health*
  • United States / epidemiology