Obesity crisis needs government action, says Lancet report

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Obesity crisis needs government action, says Lancet report
The global obesity epidemic needs a fresh approach – including government intervention – claims a series of research papers published in medical journal The Lancet.

The research portrays a bleak outlook for the health of the US population, saying that if the number of obese individuals continues to rise at the current rate, half of American adults will be obese by 2030.

The journal recognizes that using personal responsibility to prevent obesity is important, but it suggests that unless the government instigates policies to encourage people to make healthier choices – like taxing less healthy options and subsidizing healthier foods, for example – more than 50 percent of the US adult population will be obese in less than two decades, and projected costs to treat additional preventable obesity-related disease could increase by $48-66bn per year.

Currently, about a third of US adults are obese and another third are overweight, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Among many other changes to the food environment, the researchers also called for a change in the way food is marketed.

The fourth paper in the journal’s series, “Changing the future of obesity: science, policy, and action”,​ examined ways in which different stakeholders could affect the influence and sustainability of anti-obesity policies, and called for a “sustained worldwide effort to monitor, prevent, and control obesity.”

The authors wrote: “Governments are the most important actors in reversing the obesity epidemic, because protection and promotion of public goods, including public health, is a core responsibility.”

However, the food and beverage industry also has a role in helping prevent rising obesity rate, the authors said. In particular, the industry should continue to reformulate products, particularly through reducing sugar, salt and unhealthy fats; it should apply voluntary restrictions on all forms of marketing promotions of foods high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fat to children and adolescents; it should ensure that food labeling and health claims meet high standards; support public health efforts; and share relevant data to help government assess progress toward targets, while protecting commercially sensitive information, the authors said.

Government interventions continually form part of the discussion around the issue of obesity prevention in the United States, from the possibility of taxing sugary soft drinks and candy, to Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move​ campaign.

“The most powerful activities by the private sector relevant to public policy are undoubtedly lobbying activities, which often undermine policies aimed at reducing obesity—eg, in relation to regulations on marketing to children, traffic light labelling, and taxes on unhealthy foods,”​ the authors wrote.

The Lancet​ series on obesity can be accessed here​. Free registration is required.

Related topics: The obesity problem, Regulation

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6 comments

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Remove Government Subsidies, Don't Add New Taxes

Posted by Paul Kemp,

This is a good article, but I see no mention of the fact that the U.S. government subsidizes the production of corn, which is turned into our number one source of calories, High Fructose Corn Syrup. (Source: Mercola.com)

Let's remove the federal incentive to use this damaging sweetener, rather than add one more layer of taxation. It wouldn't make much sense to subsidize a major source of the obesity problem on one hand and then spend more money to punish taxpayers for responding to this federal "stimulus" to the food processors and farmers.

Making the American public pay for both the problem and the remedy doesn't seem right.

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increases and improved access to treatment

Posted by MJ Overwater,

Food and food marketing is not going away in capitalist nations, no matter how many taxes or regs are stipulated or enforced. If people who want and NEED to overeat, they will. If people want to continue to lead sedentary lives, they will. What government CAN do, IMO is offer better access to BEST care for people of ALL SES groups -- not just the wealthy or motivated -- ie -- those who are not wealthy, but comfortable enough that they prioritize their health-care monies for treatment and/or prevention of obesity for themselves and their loved ones. I have worked several years in the health-care sector with obese people. People of low means often DO want to change, lose weight, become more active, and get and be healthier. But, they are just as frustrated as their wealthier brothers and sisters of society when it comes to handling the myriad of physiological and emotional reasons why they continue to overeat, under-exercise, and abuse their bodies. They need the motivational counselling, the nutritional interventions, the follow-up sessions, the spas and sports facilities,too! Perhaps if government could help subsidize these types of facilities and needed interventions, the cycle could be broken. Pilot studies, at least, worth a try.

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controlar lo que come la gente

Posted by Patricia Salas E,

Ya es hora que afrontemos con seriedad y en forma global el problema de la salud mundial, no es casualidad que los países mas ricos se estén muriendo por exceso de alimentos en tanto que los países mas pobres se mueren de inanición, tampoco es novedad que la salud se haya constituido en uno de los negocios mas florecientes de los países desarrollados y prácticamente en una actividad inexistente en los países de menores recursos.
¿ Que nos pasó ? por que dejamos atrás la sana costumbre de beber agua y comer lo natural ? hoy por hoy todo es artificial, las proteicas, las vitaminas, los minerales, los azúcares...todo, además todo lo que ingerimos viene con preservan tes,antibióticos, y desinfectantes plagados de residuos de alta toxicidad para nuestra salud y la del planeta.
Pareciera que apoyar políticas de alimentación y vida sana dejó de ser comercial, el mercado se ha tomado el mando de nuestra propia salud e integridad y valemos mas mientras mas posibilidades de enfermar tengamos.

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