Smart food policies for obesity prevention
Prevention of obesity requires policies that work. In this Series paper, we propose a new way to understand how food policies could be made to work more effectively for obesity prevention. Our approach draws on evidence from a range of disciplines (psychology, economics, and public health nutrition) to develop a theory of change to understand how food policies work. We focus on one of the key determinants of obesity: diet. The evidence we review suggests that the interaction between human food preferences and the environment in which those preferences are learned, expressed, and reassessed has a central role. We identify four mechanisms through which food policies can affect diet: providing an enabling environment for learning of healthy preferences, overcoming barriers to the expression of healthy preferences, encouraging people to reassess existing unhealthy preferences at the point-of-purchase, and stimulating a food-systems response.