A Question of Competing Rights, Priorities, and Principles

A Postscript to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Symposium on the Ethics of Childhood Obesity Policy

Ethical arguments related to childhood obesity policies raised during the 2010 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) symposium sharpen our awareness of complex and fundamental questions about the functions of society and how policies are defined and implemented to benefit different entities. As solutions unfold, winners and losers will emerge, just as winners and losers emerge when society fails to find solutions and keeps the status quo, which is unacceptable.

Even if child and adolescent obesity rates now leveled off, the high prevalence would have far-reaching, adverse effects on the health and fitness of current and future generations and, therefore, on the economic and social health of the entire society.

This article highlights ideas generated and conclusions reached at the Symposium on Ethical Issues in Interventions for Childhood Obesity, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Data for Solutions, Inc.