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Health Promot Int. 2010 Mar;25(1):123-33. doi: 10.1093/heapro/daq003.

Prioritizing policy interventions to improve diets? Will it work, can it happen, will it do harm?

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  • 1WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria 3122, Australia.


Policies from non-health sectors have considerable impacts on the food environment and in turn on population nutrition. Health impact assessment (HIA) methods have been developed to identify the potential health effects of non-health policies; however, they are underused both within and outside the health sector. HIA and other assessment methods and tools can be used more extensively in health promotion to assist with the identification of the best policy options to pursue to improve and protect health. A participatory process is presented in this paper which combines HIAs with feasibility and effectiveness assessments. The intention is to enable health promoters to more accurately identify which policy change options would be most likely to improve diets, considering both impact and likelihood of implementation. The process was successfully used in Fiji and Tonga and provided a more systematic way of understanding which policy interventions showed the most promise.

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