A new approach to public health
An Athabasca University researcher is calling on governments to implement a new comprehensive approach to nutritional education and nutrition policy he’s calling “strategic nutrition”. In a paper published in the journal Public Health Nutrition, Dr. Norman Temple says traditional approaches to nutrition have not worked in combating the epidemic of various nutrition-related diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity, and it’s time for governments to take a new approach to public health.
Temple says the obesity epidemic, particularly in the United States, is just one example of how traditional education and policy isn’t working. Snack food companies, for example, spend billions of dollars every year on advertising, an amount that dwarfs the budgets for public education.
“The various factors implicated in obesity are so pervasive that it is almost as if society had been carefully designed to create an epidemic of obesity,” he says.
In the paper, Temple says corporations have been given the opportunity to curb some of the more harmful practices, including deceptive practices in marketing nutritional supplements, and it’s now time for governments to step in with a combination of legislation and public awareness campaigns.
“We can reasonably assume that the judicious use of taxes and subsidies can improve diets at a population level. A government policy approach to disease prevention is far more cost-effective than a medical approach.”
Temple has formulated a comprehensive action plan. “I propose the term ‘strategic nutrition’. The implementation of this plan opens up a path to a major advance in public health.”
Read the full paper here until 19th March 2015.