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October 26, 2023
Early View Perspective Commercial Determinants of Health
Eduardo J. Gómez
The Future of Population Health
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The rise of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) is a manifestation of a global economic system that currently prioritizes wealth creation over health creation. Many key problems and solutions lie outside the health sector. It is well established that commercial actors contribute to poor health through, for example, the production and marketing of harmful products such as calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods. Some also believe that industries have been predatory in nature (i.e., marketing their products to vulnerable populations, such as children and the poor).1, 2 Commercial actors, through their industry representatives, have also been perceived as indirectly contributing to our poor health by seeking to shape the science (e.g., cherry-picking and revealing data that question the relationship between sugar consumption and ill health) used to question the need for soda taxes3; the regulatory environments, such as lobbying against marketing restrictions or soda taxes or working with the government to cosponsor health campaigns and/or engage in product self-regulation in turn generate government incentives and precedents not to pursue regulations.4–6 Commercial actors have also defended social norms, “weaponizing” issues such as defending individual liberties in the right to consume whichever products individuals desire in order to avoid regulations—deemed as “nanny state” intrusions—and to maximize future revenue.7
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The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.