Policy options for responding to the growing challenge from obesity in the United Kingdom.
The aim of this study was to map and analyse how key stakeholders evaluated options for dealing with the rising incidence of obesity in the UK, as part of a wider cross-national study in nine European countries. Multi-criteria mapping was used to capture the ways in which different policy options were evaluated by a variety of key stakeholders. 'Positive societal benefits' was among the criteria most often selected by participants to assess the options and was generally considered more important than costs. Of the seven pre-defined options that all participants appraised, those related to increasing opportunities for physical activity received the highest rankings, and fiscal measures the lowest. Educational measures fared best among the remaining 13 discretionary options while technological measures performed poorly. No one option, or group of options, was considered sufficient to address the obesity problem. Rather, a general consensus was evident in support of mutually reinforcing measures related to education, information, healthier food and physical activity. Although obesity policies are currently emerging in these different areas in the UK, there is a need for them to be better coordinated, and for improved surveillance to estimate their effectiveness in reversing the trend in obesity.