In our complementary essays, we make three basic observations that we suggest will be helpful for the design of effective obesity policy. First, we acknowledge that we are only beginning to understand the complex bio-social-cultural determinants of obesity. Despite best intentions, some policy interventions will fail (and have failed). Second, given what we know to be the multi-factorial determinants of obesity, finding intelligent policy solutions requires a strategic decision-making framework that hypothesizes the web-like interrelationships among the host of variables that current evidence tells us contributes to unhealthy weights. Third, the process of implementing effective obesity policy is, by definition, political. As such, health policy advocates and health professionals need a basic understanding of the policy arena in which they fit and must acquire the necessary political skills to influence policy making processes. Seeman contends that a new kind of post-partisan decision-making needs to emerge whereby diverse decision-makers come together from the outset of planning and policy debate; whereby decision-makers feel unencumbered to disclose their competing interests; and whereby validated analytical techniques are used to synthesize and select the most innovative, unbiased and criteria-based ideas from among all those considered. Hobbs emphasizes the need for developing and effectively deploying leadership capabilities, particularly within our senior public health workforce.
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