Legal themes concerning obesity regulation in the United States: Theory and practice

James G. Hodge, Andrea M. Garcia, Supriya Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Despite national health objectives to reduce the incidence of obesity to 15% of the population by 2010, public health data suggest that the incidence of obesity in the United States is actually increasing. The U.S. recognizes that it (like other industrialized countries) faces an epidemic of obesity and related health conditions. How can U.S. jurisdictions (federal, state, and local) and the private sector respond to this epidemic through laws and policies that are directly or indirectly designed to address obesity? This article analyzes the theoretical and practical roles of law as a tool to curb obesity in the U.S. It proffers ten major legal themes to address obesity among the U.S. population, including: (1) use of incentives to encourage healthier behaviors; (2) use of financial disincentives to discourage unhealthy behaviors; (3) requirements to improve food quality, diversity, or availability; (4) compensation for injured persons seeking recourse; (5) restriction of access to unhealthy foods; (6) regulations aimed at influencing consumer choices; (7) control of marketing and advertising; (8) creation of communities that support healthy lifestyles; (9) physical education/fitness requirements; and (10) insurance coverage mandates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalAustralia and New Zealand Health Policy
StatePublished - Jun 25 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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