174522 Policy Options for Reducing Energy Consumption Through Environmental Change

Monday, October 27, 2008: 1:15 PM

Thomas Farley , Community Health Science, Tulane University, New Olreans, LA
Introduction: The combination of environmental forces that encourage energy consumption and neuropsychological mechanisms that support mindless eating has led to an epidemic of obesity. Policies to respond to the epidemic must take these factors into account.

Methods: This paper will review the types of policies and environmental changes that could reduce population-level energy consumption by changing the quantity, frequency or energy density of foods eaten. Reports of current efforts as well as potential new approaches will be discussed.

Results: Many current approaches to promoting healthy eating, such as increasing availability of fruits and vegetables, while probably beneficial to population health, are not likely to have much impact on energy consumption. Other interventions to change eating patterns such as calorie labeling in fast-food restaurants, mass media campaigns, “traffic light” labeling in food stores, and taxing energy-dense foods have not been fully evaluated but have a potential for some impact. A list of more aggressive policy options, from regulating portion sizes to limiting where food can be sold will be presented. For each policy, the potential impact on energy imbalance will be discussed. In addition, the political barriers to implementing these policies and ways of addressing those barriers will be reviewed.

Discussion: An effective response to the obesity epidemic requires more careful consideration of the environmental influences that promote energy consumption, the policies that can alter those influences, and the politics of implementing those policies.

Learning Objectives:
1. To understand the role of environmental influences in eating behaviors and the economic view of obesity and personal responsibility 2. To identify neurophysiologic mechanisms that trigger hunger and lead to eating without awareness or control 3. To identify potential policy responses to controlling the obesity epidemic by reducing energy consumption.

Keywords: Obesity, Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I reviewed and synthesized the literature being reported and analyzed the implications.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.