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Influencing Agricultural Policy

A Call for Intersectoral Collaboration to Reduce Obesity and Climate Change
      To the Editor: A recent review by Franck et al. discussed the importance of agricultural policy and its impact on the American obesity epidemic.
      • Franck C.
      • Grandi S.
      • Eisenberg M.
      Agricultural subsidies and the American obesity epidemic.
      The review was motivated by the expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill and the drafting of a new Farm Bill for 2013, which would have implications for agricultural management for the next 5 to 7 years.
      • Franck C.
      • Grandi S.
      • Eisenberg M.
      Agricultural subsidies and the American obesity epidemic.
      The authors argued that government subsidies to agricultural markets have encouraged an overproduction of food, including an oversupply of grain-fed livestock in the U.S., and have conversely discouraged production of fruits and vegetables.
      • Franck C.
      • Grandi S.
      • Eisenberg M.
      Agricultural subsidies and the American obesity epidemic.
      The authors clearly illustrated how agricultural policy can affect the cost of food and, subsequently, consumer behavior and food choices.
      • Franck C.
      • Grandi S.
      • Eisenberg M.
      Agricultural subsidies and the American obesity epidemic.
      Although the authors recognized what little control public health practitioners have over the food industry, they did not provide suggestions on how the health sector can strengthen the impact of its policies. There are two sectors that are interlinked with agriculture, public health and climate change, and better management of agricultural production is likely to have the dual benefits of reducing obesity and mitigating climate change. This opportunity for intersectoral collaboration should not be overlooked.
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      References

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        • Grandi S.
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      Linked Article

      • Agricultural Subsidies and the American Obesity Epidemic
        American Journal of Preventive MedicineVol. 45Issue 3
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          Government-issued agricultural subsidies are worsening obesity trends in America. Current agricultural policy remains largely uninformed by public health discourse. Although findings suggest that eliminating all subsidies would have a mild impact on the prevalence of obesity, a revision of commodity programs could have a measurable public health impact on a population scale, over time. Policy reforms will be important determinants of the future of obesity in America, primarily through indemnity program revisions, and the allocation of increasing amounts of resources to sustainable agriculture.
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