The obesity epidemic is spreading to low-income and middle-income countries as a result of new dietary habits and sedentary ways of life, fuelling chronic diseases and premature mortality. In this report we present an assessment of public health strategies designed to tackle behavioural risk factors for chronic diseases that are closely linked with obesity, including aspects of diet and physical inactivity, in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa. England was included for comparative purposes. Several population-based prevention policies can be expected to generate substantial health gains while entirely or largely paying for themselves through future reductions of health-care expenditures. These strategies include health information and communication strategies that improve population awareness about the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity; fiscal measures that increase the price of unhealthy food content or reduce the cost of healthy foods rich in fibre; and regulatory measures that improve nutritional information or restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. A package of measures for the prevention of chronic diseases would deliver substantial health gains, with a very favourable cost-effectiveness profile.
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