The rapidly rising rate of obesity has prompted a variety of policy responses at national, regional, and local levels. Yet, many have expressed concern that these policy responses have a limited evidence base, are overly paternalistic, and have the potential to increase rather than shrink obesity- related disparities. The purpose of this article is to evaluate obesity policies in terms of the adequacy of evidence for action and along two ethical dimensions: their potential effect on liberty and equity. To evaluate evidence, we engage in a systematic review of reviews and rate policies in terms of the sufficiency of evidence of effectiveness at combating obesity. We then apply a libertarian- paternalist framework to assess policies in terms of their impact on liberty and inverse- equity theory to assess impact on disparities. This article provides a framework to assist decision- makers in assessing best practices in obesity using a more multi- faceted set of dimensions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-192
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
Issue numberSUPPL.2
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Best practices
  • Ethics
  • Evidence
  • Obesity
  • Policy
  • Review


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