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Survey of antiobesity legislation: are these laws working?

Downey, Morgana; Still, Christopherb

Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity: October 2012 - Volume 19 - Issue 5 - p 375–380
doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e328357a71f
OBESITY AND NUTRITION: Edited by Caroline M. Apovian and Jeffrey I. Mechanick

Purpose of review Obesity is well recognized as a major public health crisis throughout the USA. In recent years, governmental bodies at the federal, state and local levels have enacted policies intended to prevent the transition to obesity. Researchers have had the opportunity to study these policies and evaluate their impact on prevention of obesity.

Recent findings Most public policies have been directed principally, but not exclusively, to the prevention of obesity in school-age children. Interventions have been directed to encouraging breast-feeding, to changing school lunches, limiting access to sugar-sweetened beverages, encouraging physical activity, changing the composition of competitive foods and affecting food advertising directed at children as well as collecting BMI information. Efforts more directed at adults include encouraging workplace wellness programs and improving the nutrition label on packaged foods with front-of-package labels and caloric information on restaurant menus.

Summary For the most part, evaluations of the interventions reveal weak or modest benefits. The actual picture might be less positive due to the poor quality of research and publication bias. Push back by industry and others will require higher quality experimental and real world studies. All interventions fail to accommodate the multifactorial aspects of obesity.

aDowney Obesity Report, Washington, District of Columbia

bGeisinger Institute, Danville, Pennsylvania, USA

Correspondence to Morgan Downey, JD, 4421 Yuma St, N.W. Washington, DC 20016, USA. Tel: +1 202 957 0085; e-mail:

© 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins