The Regulatory Policy Institute Research Group

Obesity issues and public regulation

The prevalence of obesity has featured prominently in the news alongside a range of other diet and lifestyle issues, attracting a good deal of attention from various parts of government and from other public authorities.

Regulatory reactions to the observed tendencies exhibit familiar pathologies: a repeating pattern in which (a) one of more aspects of human conduct comes to be defined as a problem (problematisation), (b) there are calls for government or a public authority to do something about the problem, and (c) the authorities oblige with simplistic actions whose wider, more diffuse consequences are frequently ignored.

Our intention is not to set out a comprehensive analysis of the relevant regulatory issues associated with the prevalence of obesity, but rather to provide an indication of how best-practice policy development might begin to approach those issues.

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