Use anti-smoking tactics to combat obesity

While overall cancer death rates in the United States have decreased over the past two decades, increasing numbers of people are suffering from obesity-related cancers such as esophageal, pancreatic, liver, and kidney cancers, according to the American Cancer Society’s annual report. To fight this trend, Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, suggests instituting policies aimed at getting people to improve their diets—similar to anti-smoking policies.

In a January 7, 2012 Voice of America video interview, Mozaffarian said that just as growing numbers of Americans have quit their smoking habits thanks to successful government policies—such as education campaigns, high taxes on tobacco product sales, and laws against selling tobacco to anyone under age 18—so too can they overcome obesity.

He added, “It’s not going to happen in a year, but in a decade or two, if we really have a sustained understanding of the impact of diet on health in this country and the economic burdens that it causes, we really could have a sea change, and relatively quickly.”

Watch the Voice of America video

Learn more

Eating processed meats, but not unprocessed red meats, may raise risk of heart disease and diabetes (HSPH release)

Shrinking the effects of the obesity epidemic (Harvard Public Health Review)