Our purpose is to offer action options that will help to improve the legal competencies of public health practitioners and policy decision makers with respect to drafting, interpreting, implementing, and enforcing laws and regulations that are relevant to the effective prevention and control of obesity. The accompanying assessment paper provided a foundation for this agenda by first establishing that legal competence for obesity prevention and control is important for both health professionals, who with proper training can effectively interject health considerations into decision- making processes, and non-health professionals involved with relevant policy and legal work, who with proper training can effectively incorporate health considerations into their decisions. The paper acknowledges apparent gaps in not only health professionals' understanding of legal tools relevant to obesity but also policymakers' recognition of how obesity relates to their decisions. In addition, this paper set forth specific competencies each of these two broad groups should have to strengthen their legal preparedness for obesity prevention and control.

To improve these competencies within and among the relevant professionals in these two broad groups, our framework identifies critical knowledge, skills, values, analytical approaches, and communication strategies. We also suggest mechanisms by which public health professionals can interact with professionals from other relevant areas and increase the capacity to address the obesity epidemic. Our framework involves four action items: (1) options to improve the identified competencies; (2) approaches to strengthen the training of current and future professionals to apply laws and authorities; (3) tools to increase legal competency; and ( 4) suggestions for the evaluation of the effectiveness of legal competency to address obesity.

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2009


Co-written with Sheila Fleischhacker, Alice Ammerman, Joan Miles, Sarah Roller, Lynn Silver, Lisa Soronen, and the Honorable Leticia Van de Putte.