BOX 4-2

Lessons Learned from Other Public Health Issues and Potential Applicability to Obesity Prevention (see Appendix D)

  • Advertising—Although obesity prevention does not involve restricted products to minors as is pertinent for tobacco and alcohol product advertising, there are similar concerns regarding young children’s inability to detect persuasive intent.

  • Consumer information—Providing information to consumers has many parallels including the need for label information on tobacco, food, and drug products.

  • Public education campaigns to convey public health messages such as those regarding youth smoking, and seat belt and child car seat use provide examples for obesity prevention media campaigns.

  • Grassroots efforts and coalition building—Community organizations (including youth and civic organizations) are active in health promotion efforts and coalitions resulting from grassroots efforts have been successful in legislative and social changes (e.g., drunk driving laws).

  • School environment—Changes to promoting a healthier overall school environment have parallels in smoking bans in schools. Further, classroom education and particularly health education efforts focus on a number of health promotion topics including safety, HIV prevention, and violence prevention.

  • Health-care system—As with numerous other health promotion issues, the health-care system provides opportunities for parent and child education as well as for prevention interventions such as administering vaccines.

  • Changes in the physical environment—Modifications of highways, roads, and intersections to enhance pedestrian and traveler safety provide parallel examples for the funding, regulatory, and prioritization efforts required to enhance opportunities for physical activity.

  • Government support and funding—The long-term commitment from both federal and state governments for research, surveillance, and program efforts on a number of public health issues (e.g., highway improvements, research centers, surveys) provides parallels for sustained efforts on obesity prevention.

  • Industry involvement—Numerous health-promoting products such as sunscreens are developed and marketed by industry.

  • Comprehensive approach—As indicated in Box 4-1, comprehensive approaches have been used in enhancing highway safety and in preventing tobacco use by youth. A similar comprehensive effort is suggested for obesity prevention.

  • Taxation and pricing—Obesity prevention efforts do not involve access to a restricted product for youth (as do tobacco and alcohol prevention efforts). Excise taxes and pricing strategies have played an important role in tobacco control efforts. However, it is more difficult to identify specific food and beverage products on which to impose taxes or tax breaks.

  • Litigation changed the tobacco control environment including the public’s view of the issue. It is unclear whether the same issues that led to litigation for tobacco are relevant to obesity prevention.

  • Access and opportunity—For restricted products, laws and regulations to restrict access to tobacco and alcohol have decreased availability. The ubiquitous nature of foods and beverages makes that a less feasible option for obesity prevention.

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