Over the past few decades, cross-sector partnerships that include the private sector have become an increasingly accepted practice in public health, particularly in efforts to address infectious disease in low and middle income countries. Now they are becoming a popular tool in efforts to reduce and prevent obesity and the epidemic of non-communicable disease. Partnering with business presents a means of acquiring resources, as well as opportunities to influence the private sector toward more healthful practices. Collaboration is a core principle of public health practice; however public-private or non-profit-private partnerships present risks and challenges that warrant specific consideration. In this article we review the role of public health partnerships with the private sector, with a focus on efforts to address obesity and non-communicable disease in high-income settings. Challenges, risks and critical success factors relevant to partnering are identified, as are areas for improving public health practice to inform decision-making around partnership development.

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