Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2015

Publication Citation

90 Indiana Law Journal 257 (2015)


Obesity is a global epidemic, exacting an enormous human and economic toll. In the absence of a comprehensive global governance strategy, states have increasingly employed a wide array of legal strategies targeting the drivers of obesity. This Article identifies recent global trends in obesity-related legislation and makes the normative case for an updated global governance strategy.

National governments have responded to the epidemic both by strengthening traditional interventions and by developing novel legislative strategies. This response consists of nine important trends: (1) strengthened and tailored tax measures; (2) broadened use of counter-advertising and health campaigns; (3) expanded food labeling; (4) increased attention to the built environment; (5) expanded use of bundled school-based strategies; (6) imposed greater restrictions on advertising and marketing to children; (7) strengthened restrictions, standards, and bans on specific foods and food additives; (8) created more targeted screening and brief interventions; and (9) ensured creative use of integrated programs to promote sustainable agriculture, environment, and healthy food.

Despite this response, there remains a need to create a centralized, publicly accessible database of interventions. In addition, the scale of the obesity epidemic combined with the global trend toward more comprehensive regulation may for the first time create political space and will for an international obesity strategy.