Multi-Country Obesity Prevention Initiative
The Global Food Research Program at UNC is a global leader in understanding rapid shifts in diet, activity, body composition, and related non-communicable disease (NCD) health consequences. Over the past several decades, our group has collaborated with many low- and middle-income countries to document these problems and to explore and evaluate large-scale, national regulatory options that can be used to effectively prevent and mitigate the effects of poor diets — including obesity and NCDs.
We are focused on creating healthier food purchasing patterns and diets and changing food systems in ways that will positively impact diet, obesity and obesity-related NCDs. We are building a global knowledge base on effective ways to improve diets and prevent obesity by focusing on five major areas of large-scale, national regulatory efforts:
- Taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages, nonessential foods (i.e., “junk food”), or sugar
- Bans on marketing of unhealthy foods or allowance of marketing of only identified healthy foods: This will often link with front-of-package food profiling.
- Front-of-the-package (FOP) food profiling: These may include positive or negative warning logos depending on the country.
- Public institution changes: Schools, hospitals, government buildings
- Other food system changes with potential to reduce obesity.
Within this scope, we have two separate efforts. The first involves current, ongoing collaborations with a set of four countries, wherein we provide research support for both baseline and future policy evaluations as well as advocacy efforts. The second involves a special evaluation fund for selected countries exploring unique regulatory options or representing regions where rigorous evaluations do not exist of such regulatory efforts.