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Synopsis

Obesity has risen to the top of the public health policy agenda worldwide. Before 1980, rates were generally well below 10%. They have since doubled or tripled in many countries, and in almost half of the OECD, 50% or more of the population is overweight. A key risk factor for numerous chronic diseases, obesity is a major public health concern.

There is a popular perception that explanations for the obesity epidemic are simple and solutions within reach. But the data reveal a more complicated picture, one in which even finding objective evidence on the phenomenon is difficult. Policy makers, health professionals and academics all face challenges in understanding the epidemic and devising effective counter strategies.

This book contributes to evidence-based policy making by exploring multiple dimensions of the obesity problem. It examines the scale and characteristics of the epidemic, the respective roles and influence of market forces and governments, and the impact of interventions. It outlines an economic approach to the prevention of chronic diseases that provides novel insights relative to a more traditional public health approach.

The analysis was undertaken by the OECD, partly in collaboration with the World Health Organization. The main chapters are complemented by special contributions from health and obesity experts, including Marc Suhrcke, Tim Lobstein, Donald Kenkel and Francesco Branca.

“This book presents a valuable set of results and suggestions about the best preventive interventions to reduce the burden of obesity. It will aid any country concerned about this burden in defining public policies aimed at altering current trends.”

– Julio Frenk, Dean, Harvard School of Public Health

“The positive message of this book is that the obesity epidemic can be successfully addressed by comprehensive strategies involving multiple interventions directed at individuals and populations.”

– Ala Alwan, Assistant Director-General, World Health Organization

“This innovative and well-researched book combines insights from a wide range of disciplines. It provides a clear exposition of the evidence that policy makers need to take action.”

– Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

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