Monitoring and benchmarking government policies and actions to improve the healthiness of food environments: a proposed Government Healthy Food Environment Policy Index

Authors

  • B. Swinburn,

    Corresponding author
    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    • School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • S. Vandevijvere,

    1. School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • V. Kraak,

    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • G. Sacks,

    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • W. Snowdon,

    1. WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    2. Pacific Research Centre for the Prevention of Obesity and Non-communicable Diseases (C-POND), Suva, Fiji
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • C. Hawkes,

    1. World Cancer Research Fund International, London, United Kingdom
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    • Members of the writing group for this manuscript, listed in order of their contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
  • S. Barquera,

    1. National Institute of Public Health, Mexico City, Mexico
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  • S. Friel,

    1. National Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
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  • B. Kelly,

    1. School of Health and Society, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
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  • S. Kumanyika,

    1. Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
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  • M. L'Abbé,

    1. Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
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  • A. Lee,

    1. School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    2. School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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  • T. Lobstein,

    1. International Association for the Study of Obesity, London, United Kingdom
    2. Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • J. Ma,

    1. Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC), Beijing, China
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  • J. Macmullan,

    1. Consumers International, London, United Kingdom
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  • S. Mohan,

    1. Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, India
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  • C. Monteiro,

    1. School of Public Health, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
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  • B. Neal,

    1. The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • M. Rayner,

    1. British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
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  • D. Sanders,

    1. School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
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  • C. Walker,

    1. Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Geneva, Switzerland
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  • INFORMAS

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    • INFORMAS is the International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support. All authors who are not members of the writing group are listed in alphabetical order, and contributed to the development of the key concepts and principles discussed in this manuscript as part of the first formal meeting of INFORMAS from 19 to 23 November 2012 at Bellagio, Italy.

Address for correspondence: B Swinburn, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.

E-mail: boyd.swinburn@auckland.ac.nz

Summary

Government action is essential to increase the healthiness of food environments and reduce obesity, diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and their related inequalities. This paper proposes a monitoring framework to assess government policies and actions for creating healthy food environments. Recommendations from relevant authoritative organizations and expert advisory groups for reducing obesity and NCDs were examined, and pertinent components were incorporated into a comprehensive framework for monitoring government policies and actions. A Government Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) was developed, which comprises a ‘policy’ component with seven domains on specific aspects of food environments, and an ‘infrastructure support’ component with seven domains to strengthen systems to prevent obesity and NCDs. These were revised through a week-long consultation process with international experts. Examples of good practice statements are proposed within each domain, and these will evolve into benchmarks established by governments at the forefront of creating and implementing food policies for good health. A rating process is proposed to assess a government's level of policy implementation towards good practice. The Food-EPI will be pre-tested and piloted in countries of varying size and income levels. The benchmarking of government policy implementation has the potential to catalyse greater action to reduce obesity and NCDs.

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