Childhood Obesity as Public Health Issue

Public Health Issue Topic

I will focus on the topic of childhood obesity in the United States. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the obesity prevalence stood at 19.3%, affecting approximately 14.4 million children and teenagers in 2018 (Anderson et al., 2019). I selected this subject because the figures demonstrate the dire need to address obesity amid speculations that the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation.

Economic Forces Related to Public Health Issue

Macroeconomic Forces

Macroeconomic factors such as unemployment, inflation, and industrial production explain the high childhood obesity prevalence. The mass production of processed foodstuffs has reduced their market prices (Williams et al., 2018). As a result, most people prefer buying these foods rather than cooking, thus increasing the consumption of junk or high-cholesterol foods. Unemployed individuals also face the obesity problem because they cannot afford healthy food. Finally, inflation increases the prices of commodities, thus augmenting the consumption of readily available foodstuffs, intensifying the vulnerability to obesity, especially in children.

Microeconomic Forces

Microeconomic factors escalate the problem of childhood obesity in the U.S. The increased competition among firms has led to the production of low-cost processed foods (Williams et al., 2018). The enhanced distribution channels also promote the accessibility of these foodstuffs to nearly every segment of the population. Therefore, individuals have embraced the consumption of processed food, increasing obesity risk due to the high-fat saturation characterizing these products.

Key Regulation Policy

An excellent example of economic policy utilized in the United States to control obesity is the sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) tax. However, only specific cities and regions have adopted the SSB tax, such as California and Philadelphia. This tax is crucial because it discourages consumers from purchasing sugary products.

Benefits and Consequences

The SSB tax increases the costs of potentially harmful products, thus discouraging their purchase. For instance, a 0.83 cents rise per fluid ounce in Berkeley, California, led to a 21% decline in consumption of SBBs, thus lessening the risk of obesity and other chronic diseases (Lee et al., 2019). However, such tax focuses on specific products and, therefore, fails to regulate the use of all commodities that increase obesity prevalence in the U.S.

Impact of Regulation or Policy

The SSB levy increases the cost of the taxed products, thus reducing their consumption. Firms in the sector are compelled to moderate their production resulting in a decrease in revenues and levies paid to federal and state governments. Significantly, the federal government saves a considerable amount from the $147 billion annual expenditure on obesity (Lee et al., 2019).


Anderson, P. M., Butcher, K. F., & Schanzenbach, D. W. (2019). Understanding recent trends in childhood obesity in the United States. Economics & Human Biology, 34, 16-25.

Lee, M. M., Falbe, J., Schillinger, D., Basu, S., McCulloch, C. E., & Madsen, K. A. (2019). Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption 3 years after the Berkeley, California, sugar-sweetened beverage tax. American Journal of Public Health, 109(4), 637-639.

Williams, A. S., Ge, B., Petroski, G., Kruse, R. L., McElroy, J. A., & Koopman, R. J. (2018). Socioeconomic status and other factors associated with childhood obesity. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 31(4), 514-521.

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PapersGeeks. "Childhood Obesity as Public Health Issue." June 17, 2023.


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