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Title: Understanding nutrition policymaking dynamics in the United States : the case of product reformulation
Author: Scott, C.
Awarding Body: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Current Institution: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Abstract:
Background: Voluntary food and beverage product reformulation is a prominent example of how self-regulation and public-private partnerships have become part of the public health nutrition policy landscape. This thesis aims to understand the emergence of reformulation in the nutrition policy system in order to provide insights into nutrition policymaking dynamics in the US. Methods: The methods of this study were based in applied policy research. It focuses on how stakeholders influence the nutrition policy process, including by shaping the framing of reformulation and nutrition policy. The methods consisted of a literature review and qualitative analysis of documents, including submissions to a government-led consultation on reformulation, in-depth stakeholder interviews, and the media. Results: Reformulation’s rise to prominence as a public health approach was the result of a confluence of factors, three of which were particularly important: (1) the consultation analysis revealed that it is a component of the food and beverage industry’s corporate political strategy to avoid and pre-empt public health regulations, (2) the interviews identified that reformulation has the support of a cross-sector coalition, and (3) the media analysis found that reformulation is a chameleonic idea with multiple frames and meanings. Specifically, the framing of reformulation shifted from 1980-2015 to encompass business, health and political frames, and to embody a range of underlying values and beliefs. Synthesising the media analysis with the consultation analysis and interviews showed that the political emphasis of reformulation became common in the early 2000s, when the food and beverage industry was responding to increasing pressure from governments and public health advocates as part of their political strategy. The interviews also found that non-industry stakeholders were fractured in their support for reformulation because they questioned the belief of ‘working with industry’ and whether nutrition policies should be formulated based on nutrients or foods. These fractions, and the lack of a unified counter policy agenda, also contributed to the industry’s ability to promote a voluntary reformulation approach. Conclusion: Voluntary reformulation initiatives form part of the food and beverage industry’s political strategy by building collaborative relationships and establishing a participative role in policymaking. This research therefore points to the need to study the dynamic interactions of stakeholders within the nutrition policy system, rather than conceptualizing industry involvement as an external influence.
Supervisor: Knai, C. ; Hawkins, B. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.718974  DOI:
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