Obesity, Business and Public Policy
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Obesity, Business and Public Policy

Edited by Zoltán J. Ács and Alan Lyles

The effects of obesity have become practically ubiquitous in the US. This book aims to provide an alternative framework through which to explore the important and controversial obesity debate that has spilled over from the medical community. This book is not about obesity as a medical condition, nor does it offer a wide-ranging discussion on the health effects of obesity or the role of the ‘right’ diet.
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Chapter 9: Federal Communication about Obesity in the Dietary Guidelines and Checkoff Programs

Parke E. Wilde


9. Federal communication about obesity in the Dietary Guidelines and checkoff programs Parke E. Wilde1,2 INTRODUCTION The most striking feature of the revised Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released January 2005, is the publication’s increased emphasis on obesity prevention: ‘To reverse the trend toward obesity, most Americans need to eat fewer calories, be more active, and make wiser food choices’ (USDHHS and USDA, 2005). The Dietary Guidelines, which are released every five years, are intended as the federal government’s most authoritative summary of the state of nutrition science and the basis for all federal communication with consumers on nutrition topics. For most Americans, the new Guidelines recommend increased consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and low-fat dairy products within a balanced diet where total calories have been moderately reduced. By subtraction, the Guidelines clearly encourage a diet with lower average amounts of some combination of foods from other categories, such as added sugars, high-fat snacks and desserts, meat and high-fat dairy products. Nevertheless, the best-known and best-funded federally sponsored consumer communications promote increased total consumption of beef, pork and dairy products, including calorically dense foods such as bacon cheeseburgers, barbeque pork ribs, pizza and butter. These communications are sponsored by the federal government’s commodity promotion programs, known as ‘checkoff’ programs. The programs are established by Congress, approved by a majority of the commodity’s producers, managed jointly by a producer board and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and funded through a tax on the producers. The federal government...

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