Obesity and the Economics of Prevention

Fit not Fat

image of Obesity and the Economics of Prevention

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.   

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. 

“a valuable set of results and suggestions about the best preventive interventions to reduce the burden of obesity.”   – Julio Frenk, Dean, Harvard School of Public Health


“The positive message of this book is that the obesity epidemic can be successfully addressed.”   – Ala Alwan, Assistant Director-General, World Health Organization


“innovative and well-researched”  – Martin McKee, Professor, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

"A timely, valuable volume on a critical issue.  Highly recommended."-Choice, July 2011





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Community Interventions for the Prevention of Obesity

Community settings offer a unique set of opportunities to reach various individuals and groups at the local level (WHO, 2007) and are a necessary complement to the implementation of high-profile, macro-level policies. Members of a community share cultural or ethnic backgrounds and are exposed to the same environmental determinants. The rationale of acting at the local level is its capacity to facilitate cross-sector efforts (King and Gill, 2009). Within a community, there is a potential to mobilise human resources such that different dynamics and synergies translate into better possibilities to “partner, collaborate, expand and enrich” an intervention (Economos and Irish-Hauser, 2007). This is particularly important given that increased and effective engagement of stakeholders enhances the prospects of a successful implementation of interventions aimed at changing lifestyles (WHO, 2007; King and Gill, 2009).

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