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Franklin & Marshall College

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

Switzerland: Global Health and Development Policy

Abstract

In recent decades, a double burden of disease has emerged that requires public health workers to fight both hunger and obesity. The obesity epidemic is unlike other epidemics in that it is largely man-made and dependent on social factors and industry influences, making it difficult to fight. The high global prevalence of obesity is partially a result of globalization, which has encouraged development and the liberalizing of economies all around the world, which in turn has increased the marketing and consumption of obesogenic products. Policy solutions have been proposed and implemented in some countries, but an international solution has yet to be found.

Purpose

When addressing the obesity epidemic, there are a number of different interests to keep in mind. This paper will address the interests and perspectives of the food industry, consumers, and the government when it comes to fighting the prevalence of global obesity. By understanding what each interest has to gain and/or lose by regulating obesogenic products, a viable solution can be found to address the costs obesity has on human health and on the greater health care system.

Method

Scholarly articles and factsheets from national and international organizations were consulted for information. Formal and informal interviews supplemented background research by allowing knowledgeable experts to share their opinions and perspectives on the topic.

Results

The study found that the most promising way to fight the obesity epidemic is to decrease the number of unhealthy food options and make the easiest choices the healthiest ones. This could mean changing food standards and requiring food manufacturers to include fewer obesogenic products to protect consumers.

Conclusions

These results suggest more should be done to change international nutrition standards in processed foods. Although current national and local efforts are admirable, obesity is an international problem that will require an international response.

Disciplines

Demography, Population, and Ecology | Family, Life Course, and Society | International and Area Studies | International Public Health | Medical Education | Medicine and Health | Medicine and Health Sciences | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Place and Environment | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion

 

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