Tracking progress from policy development to implementation: A case study on adoption of mandatory regulation for nutrition labelling in malaysia

Publication Name



Mandatory nutrition labelling, introduced in Malaysia in 2003, received a “medium im-plementation” rating from public health experts when previously benchmarked against international best practices by our group. The rating prompted this qualitative case study to explore barriers and facilitators during the policy process. Methods incorporated semi-structured interviews supplemented with cited documents and historical mapping of local and international directions up to 2017. Case participants held senior positions in the Federal government (n = 6), food industry (n = 3) and civil society representations (n = 3). Historical mapping revealed that international directions stimulated policy processes in Malaysia but policy inertia caused implementation gaps. Barriers hindering policy processes included lack of resources, governance complexity, lack of mon-itoring, technical challenges, policy characteristics linked to costing, lack of sustained efforts in policy advocacy, implementer characteristics and/or industry resistance, including corporate political activities (e.g., lobbying, policy substitution). Facilitators to the policy processes were resource max-imization, leadership, stakeholder partnerships or support, policy windows and industry engage-ment or support. Progressing policy implementation required stronger leadership, resources, inter-ministerial coordination, advocacy partnerships and an accountability monitoring system. This study provides insights for national and global policy entrepreneurs when formulating strategies towards fostering healthy food environments.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





Article Number


First Page


Last Page


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

International Development Research Centre



Link to publisher version (DOI)