Carrots, Sticks, or Carrot Sticks: Using Federal Food Policy to Engineer Dietary Change


Barbara Laraia


federal food policy, food access, food environment, food environment research, food insecurity


American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Year Published:


Policy Summary

This paper is the introduction to a journal issue with several articles on the role of federal food policy. Laraia argues that a priority should be to help Americans navigate the food environment, with its abundance of calories, thousands of new products each year, and poor access to low-cost nutritious foods. It is unclear whether the best approach involves carrots or sticks, but it will involve continued, sober research, an improved evidence base, and close attention to the ethical and moral issues that make our federal food policy challenges so compelling.

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