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Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal
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Volume 8: No. 5, September 2011

EDITORIAL
A Question of Competing Rights, Priorities, and Principles: A Postscript to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Symposium on the Ethics of Childhood Obesity Policy

The figure shows a drawing of a balance scale, the base of which is depicted by a triangle containing the words “Ethical principles.” The platform depicted on the left-hand sideof the scale is depicted by a thick blue line, above which are listed 3 groups: 1) vulnerable populations, 2) parents, and 3) children. The platform depicted on the left-hand sideof the scale is higher than the one on the right-hand side. The platform depicted on the right-hand side of the scale is depicted by a thick blue line, above which is listed 1 group: corporations. The right side of the scale is lower than the left side, indicating that corporations may have more power or influence than the groups on the left side of the scale. Underneath the triangle (ie, the base of the scale), 5 groups are listed: 1) governments, 2) health professionals, 3) advocates 4) school authorities, and 5) media. A question mark is placed after each of these groups, indicating that any or all of them may have the power to alter the balance of the scale by their use of ethical principles.

Figure. Ethical principles support the responsibility and ability of other societal entities to protect the rights of children, parents, and vulnerable populations more generally to a health-promoting (eg, non-obesity–promoting) environment in a context when these rights conflict with rights assigned to corporations that have more power and resources to defend their rights. To achieve balance requires alignment of diverse public and private attitudes regarding the most effective roles for governments and school authorities as well as eliminating stigmatization of people who are obese.

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The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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