In this research commentary the authors explore research on power and the commercial determinants of health (CDoH).

The authors conclude that a crucial first step to addressing the CDoH is to unpack, disaggregate, interrogate and thoroughly scrutinize the myriad sources and forms of corporate power. A deeper and richer understanding of power can bolster the political and strategic savvy of public health advocates and their allies.


Jennifer Lacy-Nichols (email: and Robert Marten


Lacy-Nichols J, Marten R Power and the commercial determinants of health: ideas for a research agenda BMJ Global Health 2021;6:e003850.

BMJ Global Health
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Power and the Commercial Determinants of Health: Ideas for a Research Agenda


  • With few exceptions, power has been overlooked in conceptualisations of the commercial determinants of health (CDoH), yet attention to and analysis of power are crucial to future research and advocacy efforts.
  • Corporate actors exercise power through both coercion and appeasement—coercion is often antagonistic and thus more explicit and visible, while appeasement is more subtle, using concessions to ‘pacify’ or ‘neutralise’ industry opposition.
  • Understanding how corporate actors exert power shows that the CDoH are not infallible—two important ‘cracks’ that public health advocates could amplify are vulnerable corporate reputations and conflicts within industry alliances.
  • A power lens offers insights into the sources and consequences of corporate actors’ market and political influence, as well as illuminates opportunities to challenge or diminish this power.

Source Website: BMJ