Profits vs Health: A new Lancet series on Commercial Determinants of Health

Centre for Health Policy Seminar

Tuesday 6 June 2023
1pm - 2pm (AEST)

Seminar Room 410,  Level 4, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, VIC 3053
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Commercial actors, whether they be your employer, the owner of the media you watch, or your electricity provider, are deeply embedded in our lives, though their influence, including on your health, may be more or less visible. Transnational food and technology brands are front and centre of the public consciousness. Many more commercial actors operate behind the scenes. Through their concentrated power and resources, many commercial actors pursue their interests at the expense of public interests - including health equity.

The 2023 Lancet series on Commercial Determinants of Health brought together researchers from six continents. The series develops a consensus definition, a conceptual model, a framework to understand commercial actor diversity, and a vision of a world in which people come before profits. Prof Moodie chaired the series, and Dr Lacy-Nichols led the second paper. Here, they introduce the series and reflect on its initial reception around the world. They are joined by A/Prof Paula O’Brien from the Melbourne Law School, who will present her work on commercial actors and their influence on alcohol policy in WHO and offer a legal perspective on the commercial determinants.

Jenn Lacy-Nichols is a Research Fellow working with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation at the University of Melbourne. Her research explores relationships between corporations, politics, and health. Her current program of work focuses on the development of strategies to systematically monitor commercial political practices, and draws on tools and theories from political science, public health, data science, and business studies. Jenn completed a DPhil at the University of Melbourne in 2019 that analysed the soft drink industry's political strategy to position itself as 'part of the solution' to obesity.

Dr Paula O’Brien is Associate Professor at Melbourne Law School. She is the co-director of Melbourne Law School’s Health Law and Ethics Network. She specialises in public and global health law, researching the regulation of the commercial determinants of health, access to health care, and public health emergencies. Her work on the commercial determinants of health has focussed on alcohol, with related projects on gambling, unhealthy food, cannabis, and tobacco. She works with the World Health Organization and state and federal governments on the design of health-enhancing regulation and policy.

Rob Moodie is Professor of Public Health at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne. He worked for many years on HIV prevention for the Burnet Institute, WHO/GPA and UNAIDS. He was CEO of Victorian Health Promotion Foundation from 1998-2007 and from 2008-2011 he chaired the Australian Preventative Health Taskforce, which brought in plain tobacco packaging.

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