Obesity Law and Policy

Obesity Law and Policy

Obesity Law: Rushing into the Void Edward P. Richards Director, Program in Law, Science, and Public Health Harvey A. Peltier Professor of Law LSU Law Center [email protected] http://biotech.law.lsu.edu Key Policy Questions

Why Obesity? Why Now? Why Pass Laws? What Can We Learn From The Past? Why Obesity?

Contributes to diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, and cancer Increasing at a dramatic rate over the past 2 decades Increasing fastest in children Fatter earlier means sicker earlier, longer, and more expensively A serious health problem that disproportionately affects the poor, blacks, and American Indians

The Most Important Reason COSTS Costs of Obesity Direct health care costs for the management of diabetes and other secondary diseases

Cost of SSI disability payments Costs of disability to the economy Medicaid costs to the states Why Now? Federal government wants to do something about health care costs Obesity is the do it yourself solution Put a little money into regulation and education and

the rest is up to individuals Avoids the hard issues: Access to care Drug pricing Etc. Why do Motives Matter?

Reducing obesity will take a very long term Preventing the next generation from being as fat is the important goal Costs will go up before they go down The complications of the already obese The cost of obesity treatment Governmental timeframe Is Obesity an Unintended Consequence of Past Laws? Farm Policy

Make food more affordable Make a larger variety of food available Make meat affordable for everyone Make more fresh food available Unintended consequences Supersizing as marketing edge Larger portions at home The snack culture

Land Use Separate commercial and residential development to make neighborhoods more healthful Encourage greenspace development to reduce the cost of housing Low density housing requires automobiles, so

there is no need to walk Building Regulations Fire regulations keep stairs closed and at the edge of the building Security regulations often limit routine access to stairs

ADA and other regulations require easy access for handicapped persons, but non-discrimination regs also prevent this access from being limited to disabled persons Vending Machines in Schools

Driven by budget cuts Generate important income for many schools Lead to the breakdown of rules against eating in schools, otherwise no income If you eliminate the vending machines, will you make up the income? If you put healthy snacks, are you missing the point that unlimited snacks are the problem? School Lunches Why Fast Food?

Many schools are overcrowded Lunches are served to many more students than the kitchens and cafeterias are designed for Fast food, especially when it is supplied by third parties, is the only way to serve the crowd Will banning fast food result in better lunches or just encourage schools to let students leave campus to eat?

Physical Activity of Students Many schools do not require students to have organized physical activity each day PE was cut as budgets were cut PE was cut to make more room for substantive courses School increased homework so students do not have time to play after school

What Should We Learn From Past Mistakes? Think before you legislate - the science does not support a lot of the common sense solutions Look hard at the underlying reasons for current behavior and address those causes directly Analyze the possible unintended consequences of new laws

Develop a long term strategy, including money What are Potential Unintended Consequences?

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