Corporate determinants of health

Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition

Our research explores the ways that business corporations influence health and equity. It aims to identify potential mechanisms for limiting the negative impacts of corporations on society and the environment. Much of our research in this area is focused on the regulatory systems that foster excessive corporate power.

Business corporations have a powerful influence on health and equity. They can contribute to economic development, create jobs, and be highly innovative. However, some corporations, such as those in unsustainable and unhealthy industries such as fossil fuels and tobacco, negatively affect society and the environment. In addition, many large corporations contribute to widening social and economic inequalities by avoiding taxation and prioritising the financial interests of their shareholders over other concerns.

Our research aims to generate new evidence on the ways in which some corporations negatively impact on society and the environment, and to support the translation of this evidence into the implementation of a broad range of policies, programs and collective actions that will address the corporate drivers of ill-health and inequity.

  • Monitoring corporate practices and countering their impact

    We have a strong history and large program of research focused on monitoring the practices of harmful industries, understanding the influence these practices have on public health and wellbeing, and examining ways to counter their impacts.

    Projects include:

    • monitoring the corporate political activities of the food industry and their influence in policy making, including as part of the International Network for Food and Obesity/Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) Research, Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS) network
    • Making big business everybody’s business—examining the role of corporations on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing
    • #DigitalYouth and SCANNER—an artificial intelligence approach to monitoring harmful marketing to children and youth
    • monitoring elite sports sponsorship and corporate health promotion
    • understanding potential mechanisms for limiting corporate influence and harmful marketing practices.
  • Investing for health

    We have a unique and ongoing research program that explores the potential role of institutional investors in supporting efforts to improve food systems and population diets. Our international collaborators include the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) and Save the Children. This includes work to develop an advocacy strategy for mobilising investors in the breast-milk substitutes industry to champion child survival. Read our latest findings briefs on ‘Investing for nutrition and obesity prevention‘ and ‘Investing for sustainable food systems‘, and see our academic publications related to nutrition and obesity, and investing for health.

  • Increasing coherence between competition policy and public health objectives

    ‘Competition policy’ refers to the set of public policies designed to ensure that markets are competitive, efficient, and enhance overall welfare. We explore ways to maximise coherence between competition policy and broad public health objectives. Read our latest work calling for the integration of public health values into future competition policy reforms in order to better protect population health from the harms associated with highly concentrated ‘unhealthy commodity’ markets.