National Public Health Surveillance of Corporations in Key Unhealthy Commodity Industries – A Scoping Review and Framework Synthesis

Document Type : Review Article


1 College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, VIC, Australia

2 Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Corporations in unhealthy commodity industries (UCIs) have growing influence on the health of national populations through practices that lead to increased consumption of unhealthy products. The use of government-led public health surveillance is best practice to better understand any emerging public health threat. However, there is minimal systematic evidence, generated and monitored by national governments, regarding the scope of UCI corporate practices and their impacts. This study aims to synthesise current frameworks that exist to identify and monitor UCI influence on health to highlight the range of practices deployed by corporations and inform future surveillance efforts in key UCIs.

Seven biomedical, business and scientific databases were searched to identify literature focused on corporate practices that impact human health and frameworks for monitoring or assessment of the way UCIs impact health. Content analysis occurred in three phases, involving (1) the identification of framework documents in the literature and extraction of all corporate practices from the frameworks; (2) initial inductive grouping and synthesis followed by deductive synthesis using Lima and Galea’s ‘vehicles of power’ as a heuristic; and (3) scoping for potential indicators linked to each corporate practice and development of an integrated framework.

Fourteen frameworks were identified with 37 individual corporate practices which were coded into five different themes according the Lima and Galea ‘Corporate Practices and Health’ framework. We proposed a summary framework to inform the public health surveillance of UCIs which outlines key actors, corporate practices and outcomes that should be considered. The proposed framework draws from the health policy triangle framework and synthesises key features of existing frameworks.

Systematic monitoring of the practices of UCIs is likely to enable governments to mitigate the negative health impacts of corporate practices. The proposed synthesised framework highlights the range of practices deployed by corporations for public health surveillance at a national government level. We argue there is significant precedent and great need for monitoring of these practices and the operationalisation of a UCI monitoring system should be the object of future research.


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  • Receive Date: 20 October 2021
  • Revise Date: 17 October 2022
  • Accept Date: 02 January 2023
  • First Publish Date: 09 January 2023