World Health Organization

Public Policy Initiatives That Work

Public Health Strategies for Health  Photos from two separate public health campaigns.

As some or most of you may know, I have always taken a keen interest in public policy (including helping to research and write sodium legislation for MA DPH during grad school!).  I feel that we live in an obesogenic environment and that one of the places to start to change that is through writing policy.  Creating communities that have access to healthful choices and the knowledge to make those choices is very important.

"As a society, we must implement evidence-based, cost-effective public-health interventions without delay -- we now know they work," said Mozaffarian, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.


The Most Successful Campaigns

Researchers published in the journal Circulation analyzed over 1,000 studies seeking to tease out the most effective strategies.  Some that made the list are as follows, in no particular order:

 Bans on smoking in public (not to mention the taxing as a financial disincentive)

  • Walkable communities
  • Limitations on advertising unhealthy foods to children
  • Economic incentives that make healthy foods more affordable
  • Direct mandates and restrictions on specific ingredients (ex. trans fats, sodium)
  • Financials incentives for supermarkets to move into food deserts
  • In-school gardening and structured physical activity in school systems

So what are some of the best and worst public health campaigns that you can think of?  Is anyone thankful for or angry about some of them?  I'd love to know your responses..


For any additional information regarding global initiatives, please visit the World Health Organization's Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health