Obesity: What Policies Address It and How Well Do They Work?


Picture yourself at a bodega in Manhattan, stomach grumbling, on the hunt for a quick snack. You reach for a Snickers bar, but your eyes pause on the bright red label on the packaging: LESS HEALTHY. Would that steer you toward a healthier option? How about the bar’s calorie count in bold? A candy bar tax?

Associate Professor Brian Elbel’s research on America’s obesity epidemic examines how innovative public policies—like the ones above—can shift behaviors to curb obesity.

Modern policymakers, Professor Elbel says, must examine food environments—the factors that influence food choices and food quality—to enact effective policies combating obesity. Professor Elbel collaborates with New York City policymakers to examine the ways food prices, taxes, availability, and marketing interact to drive consumption patterns.

To see Professor Elbel’s work in action, look no further than the streets of New York City, where some of his findings are playing out in real-time.