Policymaker Survey 2014

Obesity: perception and policy – multi-country review and survey of policymakers

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policymakers_survey_2014Over the last few decades, rates of obesity have been rapidly rising, first across the developed world and, more recently, in developing countries. The health impacts can be myriad and serious, and the implications for individuals and for governments – including increasing health-care costs and falling economic output – are clear. Policymakers will be faced with the financial consequences of obesity – and they are well placed to take action to control the epidemic and its health repercussions. However, are their perceptions of obesity and obesity policy accurate? Do they appreciate the extent of the epidemic, the drivers of obesity, and the tools and actions that need to be taken to make a difference?

To address these questions, the European Association for the Study of Obesity, with C3 Collaborating for Health, commissioned a survey of policymakers’ attitudes towards and knowledge of obesity issues. It built on a successful survey  of policymakers carried out in three countries in 2013 (England, Spain and the United States), extending it to a further eight (Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Mexico).

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The survey found that policymakers would benefit from greater awareness of the extent of obesity and overweight (and particularly the latter) in their countries, with a better appreciation of ‘what works’ and the impact of obesity-prevention and -management programmes. If policymakers have solid knowledge of the extent of the problem and the existing evidence on successful interventions, national policies are more likely to be put in place that adequately address the reality of tackling obesity in the population.

This initiative was supported by an unrestricted grant from Novo Nordisk A/S.

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