In order to increase consumer participation it is necessary to educate the public about the policy process and motivate them to do be involved and recognize that they too have a voice in this process. Participants may act as impetus or constraints in a matter of policy where they seek to either move the policy forward or fight against it by either preventing its passage or lessening the perceived negative effects of it (Kingdon, 2011). As consumers seek to make changes they have the right to speak out and support or fight against policies according to their beliefs regarding potential outcomes of specific policies.
The presidential election of 2008 showed that internet technologies were extremely effective in increasing voting participation as they had a record year of votes cast (Kraft & Furlong, 2015). Websites like www.letsmove.gov have suggestions for parents, elected officials, schools, etc. on how they can participate in the implementation of initiatives to help in the fight against obesity. Furthermore, the most recent participation the public can have with the policy process is the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015. As discussed on former posts the public is given the opportunity to attend meetings in person or via web streaming and make comments to let their voice be heard (health.gov, 2015). When the report was released, we heard about it in the news and on the radio about the changes from the 2010 guidelines. However, at that point, the developing process was over and comment periods during following the formative sessions had ended. Corporations, special interest groups, healthcare professionals, and academia submitted most of the comments (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2015). Yet, a strategy to get the layperson to know that they too can comment would be to get the word out about the dates and times of these meetings. One way could be to make use of governmental daily emails, such as the emails that go out every day if you sign up for them on choosemyplate.gov. Of course the daily emails for choosemyplate.gov are about eating healthy, but I do think that would be a useful venue to educate the public on upcoming changes to guidelines and how they can be involved. A short announcement at the bottom of the email, after the healthy eating tip, would likely be sufficient.
Health.gov. (2015). Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2015, from http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015.asp
Kingdon, J. W. (2011). Agendas, alternatives, and public policies (2nd ed.). Glenview, IL: Pearson.
Kraft, M. E., & Furlong, S. R. (2015). Public Policy: Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press.
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2015). Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 Read Comments. Retrieved February 22, 2015, from http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2015/comments/readComments.aspx