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Annu Rev Public Health. 2012 Apr;33:307-24. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031811-124608. Epub 2012 Jan 3.

Policies for healthier communities: historical, legal, and practical elements of the obesity prevention movement.

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Public Health Law & Policy, Oakland, California 94612, USA.


The U.S. population is facing an obesity crisis wrought with severe health and economic costs. Because social and environmental factors have a powerful influence over lifestyle choices, a national obesity prevention strategy must involve population-based interventions targeted at the places where people live, study, work, shop, and play. This means that policy, in addition to personal responsibility, must be part of the solution. This article first describes the emergence of and theory behind the obesity prevention movement. It then explains how government at all levels is empowered to develop obesity prevention policy. Finally, it explores eight attributes of a promising state or local obesity prevention policy and sets the obesity prevention movement in the context of a larger movement to promote healthy communities and prevent chronic disease.

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