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Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit not Fat (Complete Edition ‐ ISBN 9789264084865)

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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





Executive Summary

Chapter 1. Introduction: Obesity and the Economics of Prevention

‐Obesity: The extent of the problem

‐Obesity, health and longevity

‐The economic costs of obesity

‐The implications for social welfare and the role of prevention

‐What economic analysis can contribute

‐The book's main conclusions

‐Overview of the remaining chapters

‐Key messages

Special Focus I. Promoting Health and Fighting Chronic Diseases: What Impact on the Economy? by Marc Suhrcke

Chapter 2. Obesity: Past and Projected Future Trends

‐Obesity in the OECD and beyond

‐Measuring obesity

‐Historical trends in height, weidht and obesity

‐Cohort patterns in overweight and obesity

‐Projections of obesity rates up to 2020

‐Key messages

Chapter 3. The Social Dimensions of Obesity

‐Obesity in different social groups

‐Obesity in men and women

‐Obesity at different ages

‐Obesity and socio‐economic condition

‐Obesity in different racial and ethnic groups

‐Does obesity affect employment, wages and productivity?

‐Key messages

Special Focus II. The Size and Risks of the International Epidemic of Child Obesity by Tim Lobstein

Chapter 4. How Does Obesity Spread?

‐The determinants of health and disease

‐The main driving forces behind the epidemic

‐Market failures in lifestyle choices

‐The social multiplier effect: Clustering of obesity within households, peer groups and social networks

‐Key messages

Special Focus III. Are Health Behaviors Driven by Information? by Donald Kenkel

Chapter 5. Tackling Obesity: The Roles of Governments and Markets

‐What can governments do to improve the quality of our choices

‐Government policies on diet and physical activity in the OECD area

‐Private sector responses: Are markets adjusting to the new challenges?

‐Key messages

Special Focus IV. Community Interventions for the Prevention of Obesity by Francesco Branca

Chapter 6. The Impact of Interventions

‐What interventions really work?

‐cost effectiveness analysis: A generalised approach

‐Effects of interventions on obesity, health and life expectancy

‐The costs and cost‐effectiveness of interventions

‐Strategies involving multiple interventions

‐Distributional impacts of preventive interventions

‐From modelling to policy: Key drivers of success

‐Key messages

Special Focus V. Perspectives on the Regulation of Food Advertising to Children: The UK Experience by Jonathan Porter

Special Focus VI. The Case for Self‐Regulation in Food Advertising by Stephan Loerke

Chapter 7. Information, Incentives and Choice: A Viable Approach to Preventing Obesity

‐Tackling the obesity problem

‐Populations or individuals?

‐Changing social norms

‐A multi‐stakeholder approach

‐How much individual choice?

‐Key messages

Annex A. Supplementary Figures and Tables

Annex B. Author's and Contributors' Biographies

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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