menu ☰
menu ˟

Understanding the United States and Brazil’s response to obesity: institutional conversion, policy reform, and the lessons learned

10 Jun 2015

Background:
In the United States (US) and Brazil, obesity has emerged as a health epidemic. This article is driven by the following research questions: how did the US and Brazil’s federal institutions respond to obesity? And how did these responses affect policy implementation? The aim of this article is therefore to conduct a comparative case study analysis of how these nations’ institutions responded in order to determine the key lessons learned.
Methods:
This study uses primary and secondary qualitative data to substantiate causal arguments and factual claims.
Results:
Brazil shows that converting preexisting federal agencies working in primary healthcare to emphasize the provision of obesity prevention services can facilitate policy implementation, especially in rural areas. Brazil also reveals the importance of targeting federal grant support to the highest obesity prevalence areas and imposing grant conditionalities, while illustrating how the incorporation of social health movements into the bureaucracy facilitates the early adoption of nutrition and obesity policies. None of these reforms were pursued in the US.
Conclusions:
Brazil’s government has engaged in innovative institutional conversion processes aiding its ability to sustain its centralized influence when implementing obesity policy. The US government’s adoption of Brazil’s institutional innovations may help to strengthen its policy response.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in