Actions Necessary to Prevent Childhood Obesity: Creating the Climate for Change

Authors

  • Marlene B. Schwartz,

    1. Director of Research and School Programs at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. She also serves as the Co-Director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders.
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  • Kelly D. Brownell

    1. Professor of Psychology, a Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, and the Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.
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Abstract

Childhood obesity has become a public health epidemic, and currently a battle exists over how to frame and address this problem. This paper explores how public policy approaches can be employed to address obesity. We present the argument that obesity should be viewed as the consequence of a “toxic environment” rather than the result of the population failing to take enough “personal responsibility.” In order to make progress in decreasing the prevalence of obesity, we must shift our view of obesity away from the medical model (which focuses on the individual)to a public health model (which focuses on the population). At the same time, we must be sensitive to the problem of weight bias.Potential obstacles to taking a public policy approach are identified, as well as suggestions on how to overcome them.

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