Using marketing muscle to sell fat: the rise of obesity in the modern economy

Annu Rev Public Health. 2011:32:285-306. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-090810-182502.


The large increase in obesity in the past 30 years has often been explained in rational choice terms; for example, a decline in food prices has engendered greater food consumption. On closer examination, this kind of explanation does not fit the facts of the current obesity epidemic. Instead, an unprecedented expansion in the scope, power, and ubiquity of food marketing has coincided with an unprecedented expansion in food consumption in predictable ways. Ongoing protestations that the causes of the recent increase in obesity are unknown may overstate the case. Ample evidence indicates that the obesity epidemic is, at least to a large degree, the result of increased marketing power over the American diet. Only by reigning in or countering marketing power can rationality be restored to the dietary choices of Americans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Fats / economics*
  • Economics
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Marketing / economics*
  • Obesity / economics
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology


  • Dietary Fats