Research Paper Help Obesity


Current Status of the Problem

Obesity is a problem in the current society due to the recent lifestyles that do not encourage active and healthy living. However, the federal and state governments have been collaborating with health agencies to develop systematic legal regulations in addressing the problem of obesity. The public health agencies have the authority to regulate the problem as indicated under the police power. The public health law has been effective in creating environments that support improved healthy lives in the society. In 2005, close to 17 states passed laws regarding school based healthy living and physical education initiatives. In addition, there are additional legislations created to regulate the access to vending machines as well as introduction of effective school healthy foods.

Background and Legislative History

In order to deal with the problem of obesity, health professionals are examining relevant policies and regulations that suppress the obesogenic climates. There is minimal systematic examination of the state legislative efforts towards preventing obesity in the society. The introduction of legislative bills in 2003 to 2005 leads to the development of systematic legal frameworks of close to 717 bills. Research study by Gostin, Pomeranz, Jacobson and Gottfried (2009) identifies and understands the evidence based policies necessary in preventing obesity.  The evidence-based policies have a significant impact on the health status of people.  

Under the Farm Bill, the government sought to increase the access to healthy foods. The main factors that affected the access to healthy foods include quantity and quality of food supply in the economy. The legislation was able to provide substantial support in contributing to the growth of major commodity crops, including cotton and soy. From 1985 to 2000,   fruits and vegetables were not affordable due to the high process. Thus, Farm bill was crucial in reducing the costs of healthy foods in the society. In 1978, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) established relevant laws in regulating the advertisements of foods and beverages (Alderman, Smith, Fried & Daynard, 2007). Some of the marketing practices adversely affected children by campaign for unhealthy and sugary drinks. Thus, FTC started an initiative for rule making known as KidVid. The legal initiative would provide relevant evidence that restricted the televised advertising of sugary drinks to all children against unfair and deceptive marketing campaigns. The FTC Act would be effective in instituting rules under the deceptive act. From 2004 to 2009, the federal government established the current transportation bill relevant in supplying the economy with safe and efficient public networks.

In late 2006, the board of health developed a regulation that was mandated for labeling calorie, and required all food service providers to publish the calorie information on their menu. The association of hotels in the state challenged the law. The health department provides a strong declaration illustrating that the labeling of the calorie would reduce the cases of obesity. In September 2007, the U.S federal court made a decision stating that all restaurants must publish the calorie information (Dietz, Benken & Hunter, 2009).

 Another significant law passed is the Menu Education and Labeling (MEAL) Act that would correct “the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act” in requiring the restaurants to publish calorie and nutritional content of the food items. The Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity Act has been crucial in allowing the states to use prevention health care services. The services usually target addressing and preventing obesity and other eating disorders. Most important, the law was established to mandate the secretary of HHS with the responsibility of reporting to the congress about the cause and implications of obesity, and the effective campaigns imposed to tackle the issue. The Menu Education and Labeling ( MEAL ) Act was introduced before the end of 2008 congress session to amend “the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act”, stating the need for chain hotels to label their menu with the  calorie content. Moreover, in 2008, the senate passed several resolutions regarding preventing obesity before the World Diabetes Day. First, the Federal Obesity Prevention Act of 2008 was introduced to correct the Public Health Service Act (Gostin et al., 2009). The Federal Obesity Prevention Act helped in developing relevant strategies in preventing, treating, and reducing causes of obesity in the United States.

In 2011, the state legislatures continued enacting laws focusing on promoting healthy communities as well as preventing obesity. However, the formation of laws was less than in the previous year, 2010. In 2010, there were many bills formed on regulating obesity. Many states with increased levels of obesity took relevant actions in addressing the issues. The state legislative actions undertaken moved forward to institute appropriate policies that accommodate the needs of the various stakeholders. Alderman et al. (2007) suggested that the bills were significant in upholding effective legislative frameworks in enhancing healthy eating in the society. In 2012, the U.S Agency of Agriculture adjusted its nutritional standards and requirements for the national school food programs to align them with the current nutritional requirements. Most importantly, the federal Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 was relevant in regulating the operations of retail food hotels and the operators of the vending machines. The public health law has been influential in advocating for a proper understanding of the agricultural policy to enhance healthy eating both at local and national level. Therefore, the state and federal governments have made strong legislative efforts in controlling the problem of obesity in the society.

The 110th Congress also focused on developing relevant obesity legislation. The main obesity bills include the childhood obesity bills that would help in encouraging exercise and altering the nature of food contents. Additional bills have been developed in encouraging more comprehensive laws in addressing obesity, such as H.R 1585, H.R 2677 and H.R 3895. The “Healthy Foods for Healthy Living Act” (H.R 45) was instituted in making relevant grants to enhance consumption of healthy (Pomeranz, 2008). The act also required the Medicare and Medicare cover to prevent obesity.

The US government has been in the forefront in fighting the obesity problem in the society. This can be reflected through the establishment of the NSW Healthy Eating and Active Living Strategy 2013-2018. The strategy indicates the comprehensive frameworks used by the government in supporting healthy eating as well as reducing the impacts of lifestyle-associated diseases. It also encourages and supports the community in making healthy changes at the individual level. The strategy has helped in creating opportunities for an individual to be healthy through the provision of evidence based programs and initiatives (Swinburn, 2008). The strategy is based on four core aspects including environments to support health eating, country wide eating programs, living advice, and education and information relating to various healthy choices. It is also important for the government to corporate with the health services in creating relevant partnerships that promote healthy eating and physical activity.


Alderman, J., Smith, J. A., Fried, E. J., & Daynard, R. A. (2007). Application of law to the childhood obesity epidemic. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 35(1), 90-112.

Dietz, W. H., Benken, D. E., & Hunter, A. S. (2009). Public health law and the prevention and control of obesity. Milbank Quarterly, 87(1), 215-227.

Gostin, L. O., Pomeranz, J. L., Jacobson, P. D., & Gottfried, R. N. (2009). Assessing laws and legal authorities for obesity prevention and control. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 37(s1), 28-36.

Pomeranz, J. L. (2008). A historical analysis of public health, the law, and stigmatized social groups: the need for both obesity and weight bias legislation. Obesity, 16(S2), S93-S103.

Swinburn, B. A. (2008). Obesity prevention: the role of policies, laws and regulations. Australia and New Zealand health policy, 5(1), 12.