Increasing health and economic costs of overweight and obesity underscore the urgency of finding effective means of addressing the problem. There is broad support within the public health community for approaches that are holistic in nature, taking into account a host of factors that make up the food environment and ultimately influence individual behaviours. Policies with the power to support substantial and even radical changes in the food environment will require a high degree of political will, a systems approach and global co-operation. Small steps are unlikely to produce adequate results. Change of this magnitude will require newly developed and effectively deployed leadership capacities, particularly within our senior public health workforce.