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Keywords:

  • Obesity prevention;
  • policy;
  • framework

Summary

A comprehensive policy approach is needed to control the growing obesity epidemic. This paper proposes the Obesity Policy Action (OPA) framework, modified from the World Health Organization framework for the implementation of the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, to provide specific guidance for governments to systematically identify areas for obesity policy action. The proposed framework incorporates three different public health approaches to addressing obesity: (i) ‘upstream’ policies influence either the broad social and economic conditions of society (e.g. taxation, education, social security) or the food and physical activity environments to make healthy eating and physical activity choices easier; (ii) ‘midstream’ policies are aimed at directly influencing population behaviours; and (iii) ‘downstream’ policies support health services and clinical interventions. A set of grids for analysing potential policies to support obesity prevention and management is presented. The general pattern that emerges from populating the analysis grids as they relate to the Australian context is that all sectors and levels of government, non-governmental organizations and private businesses have multiple opportunities to contribute to reducing obesity. The proposed framework and analysis grids provide a comprehensive approach to mapping the policy environment related to obesity, and a tool for identifying policy gaps, barriers and opportunities.