Addressing the Proximal Causes of Obesity

The Relevance of Alcohol Control Policies

Published In: Preventing Chronic Disease, v. 9, article ID 9:110274, May 2012, p. 1-8

Posted on RAND.org on May 01, 2012

by Deborah A. Cohen, Lila Rabinovich

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Many policy measures to control the obesity epidemic assume that people consciously and rationally choose what and how much they eat and therefore focus on providing information and more access to healthier foods. In contrast, many regulations that do not assume people make rational choices have been successfully applied to control alcohol, a substance - like food - of which immoderate consumption leads to serious health problems. Alcohol-use control policies restrict where, when, and by whom alcohol can be purchased and used. Access, salience, and impulsive drinking behaviors are addressed with regulations including alcohol outlet density limits, constraints on retail displays of alcoholic beverages, and restrictions on drink "specials." We discuss 5 regulations that are effective in reducing drinking and why they may be promising if applied to the obesity epidemic.

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