A proposed approach to monitor private-sector policies and practices related to food environments, obesity and non-communicable disease prevention

A proposed approach to monitor private-sector policies and practices related to food environments, obesity and non-communicable disease prevention

Private-sector organizations play a critical role in shaping the food envi-
ronments of individuals and populations. However, there is currently
very limited independent monitoring of private-sector actions related to
food environments. This paper reviews previous efforts to monitor the
private sector in this area, and outlines a proposed approach to monitor
private-sector policies and practices related to food environments, and
their influence on obesity and non-communicable disease (NCD) preven-
tion. A step-wise approach to data collection is recommended, in which
the first (‘minimal’) step is the collation of publicly available food and
nutrition-related policies of selected private-sector organizations. The
second (‘expanded’) step assesses the nutritional composition of each
organization’s products, their promotions to children, their labelling
practices, and the accessibility, availability and affordability of their
products. The third (‘optimal’) step includes data on other commercial
activities that may influence food environments, such as political lobby-
ing and corporate philanthropy. The proposed approach will be further
developed and piloted in countries of varying size and income levels.
There is potential for this approach to enable national and international
benchmarking of private-sector policies and practices, and to inform
efforts to hold the private sector to account for their role in obesity and
NCD prevention.