Legal and Public Health Considerations-- American Journal of Public Health

Legal and Public Health Considerations-- American Journal of Public Health

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American Journal of Public Health | September 2008, Vol 98, No. 9 1578 | Government, Politics, and Law | Peer Reviewed | Pomeranz and Brownell GOVERNMENT, POLITICS, AND LAW Legal and Public Health Considerations Affecting the Success, Reach, and Impact of Menu-Labeling Laws | Jennifer L. Pomeranz, JD, MPH, and Kelly D. Brownell, PhD Because the rate of con- sumption of away-from-home meals has increased dramati- cally, the distinction between requiring nutrition informa- tion for packaged but not res- taurant products is no longer reasonable. Public health necessitates that nutrition labels must be included with restaurant menus as a strategy to educate con- sumers and address the esca- lation of obesity. Menu-labeling laws are being considered at the local, state, and federal lev- els, but the restaurant indus- try opposes such action. We discuss the public health rationale and set forth the gov- ernment’s legal authority for the enactment of menu-labeling laws. We further aim to edu- cate the public health com- munity of the potential legal challenges to such laws, and we set forth methods for gov- ernments to survive these challenges by drafting laws according to current legal standards. ( Am J Public Health. 2008;98:1578–1583. doi:10.2105/ AJPH.2007.128488) MENU-LABELING LAWS ARE being considered at local, state, and federal levels. Proposed laws have considerable support among health groups but are op- posed by the restaurant industry. With these legal efforts being one of most visible public policy strategies to improve nutrition and prevent obesity, it is impor- tant to understand the public health rationale, the legal basis, and how the writing and framing of legislation makes it more or less vulnerable to subsequent legal challenges. THE PUBLIC HEALTH RATIONALE The modern food environment has prompted the call for menu labeling. Few Americans eat rec- ommended amounts of produce and many overconsume calorie- dense, nutrient-poor foods. Obe- sity is one consequence, but in- creased risk for diseases related to poor diet (e.g., heart disease, cancer, diabetes) is a concern for the entire population. Eating Outside the Home Consumption of restaurant food has increased dramatically. Restaurant industry sales are pro- jected to be $537 billion by the end of 2007, up from $322.5 billion in 1997. 1 Americans cur- rently spend 47.9% of their food budget on restaurant food. 2 Quick-service establishments (QSEs) serve what is commonly referred to as “fast food.” The 6 largest quick-service chains have 109072 restaurant units around the world. 3 A 15-year prospec- tive study found that users of fast food visited QSEs on average 2 times a week, whereas the lowest users still patronized them 1.3 times per week. 4
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This note was uploaded on 08/24/2010 for the course PSYC 123 taught by Professor Kellybrownell during the Spring '08 term at Yale.

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Legal and Public Health Considerations-- American Journal of Public Health

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