The Big Ask: can governments help combat obesity?

Three experts share their views on the role of government in fighting obesity 

Julia Goedecke, PhD, Senior Specialist Scientist, South African Medical Research Council 

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Julia Goedecke, PhD, Senior Specialist Scientist, South African Medical Research Council

"To stop the rise in obesity, government should focus on education, through schools and the mass media, and facilitating access to healthy foods, increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary time. In addition, government needs to focus on changing food and agricultural policies and regulating industry."

Carol W. Cassella, Novelist and physician

obesity overweight health food policy government
Carol W. Cassella, Novelist and Physician

"Classifying which foods warrant a tax of 20 per cent or more - the threshhold at which consumers change their purchasing choices - is both too complex and regressive impacting the poor far more than the well off. Better choice to educate consumers, because the food industry won’t produce what doesn’t sell."

Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Harvard

obesity overweight health food policy government
Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Harvard

"Evidence indicates that highly processed food has adverse health consequences, in contrast to unprocessed foods such as fruit, nuts, vegetables, olive oil, fish and meat. A modest tax on processed foods and subsidy to unprocessed foods would be sensible policy. Public education for families using digital technologies, would also be useful."