Healthy Communities: Food Systems, Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

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Updated August 2014

This page is designed to provide easy access to the combined resources of NCSL and other organizations about food systems, healthy eating and  physical activity to support healthy communities.

Legislative Tracking Resources

Childhood Obesity Policy Options - 2013

Childhood Obesity Policy Options - 2012

Overview of Wellness Legislation

 Childhood Obesity Policy Options -2011

Health Disparities

Wellness Overview Resources

Childhood Obesity Policy Options - 2009

Childhood Obesity Policy Options -2007

Obesity Rates and Costs for Adults (50-state map)

Childhood Obesity Policy Options - 2008

Childhood Obesity Policy Options  - 2006

Obesity Resources

State legislatures are involved directly and indirectly in adopting policies that affect healthy eating, physical activity and food systems to deliver healthy foods to diverse communities.  Policies that support eating healthy foods, and the more complex task of making them available in communities, combine with efforts such as designing the places we live, work, study and play to make it easier to be physically active by walking and biking.  A complex mix of health, economic, social, cultural and behavioral factors contribute to the growing number of obese Americans.  During the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in America.  Sixty-six million Americans are now overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese increases the likelihood of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, and may shorten life expectancy for children.

Physical Activity, Nutrition & Obesity Resources

Food Systems to Support Healthy Communities -  Healthy food systems help ensure that nutritious foods and beverages are available and affordable in schools, workplaces, grocery and other food stores, workplaces, restaurants and entertainment sites, and other community venues.  Food producers, growers, marketers and consumers are all engaged in initiatives to enhance the availability of nutritious foods through food production and distribution systems. 

Healthy Food- Healthy eating is choosing and consuming a nutritionally balanced diet.  A range of factors and policies influence individuals' food choices and the quality and types of foods available in schools, workplaces and communities. It's important to educate and enable children and adults to make healthy food choices, and to support healthy food environments where children learn, where people work and in culturally diverse communities, including making healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable.

Woman Jogging
Physical Activity - Healthy community environments support physical activity as a part of everyday life. It's important to teach children how to be physically active at a young age through physical education and other opportunities for physical activity and wellness in schools. Active living can also be facilitated through the built environment — by designing neighborhoods, transportation systems, buildings, parks and open space — to allow more active lives.

Obesity Statistics about U.S. Adults - State-by-state information about the prevalence of obesity, obesity costs and general background information on the topic can be found at this link.

NCSL Web Pages - Additional State Legislation Resources

NCSL Meetings - Resource Materials

"Fresh Food--A Recipe for Healthy Schools and Communities" - NCSL session at Legislative Summit, August 7, 2012.

"Food Systems: Cultivating Economic Development and Healthy Communities" - NCSL Spring Forum Session, April 15, 2011.

  • Diana Endicott, Farm to Market Coordinator, Good Natured Family Farms, Kansas - No Powerpoint Available
  • Honorable Brenda Council, Nebraska Senate  - Powerpoint
  • David Fikes, Director, Community/Consumer Affairs and Social Responsibility, Food Marketing Institute, Virginia  - Powerpoint

Health Reform Preconference - "Public Health and Disease Prevention": NCSL preconference to the 2010 Legislative Summit. An overview of the public health and wellness challenges and opportunities under the new health reform law. Includes PowerPoint presentations and a video of the session.

Q and A With Kevin Concannon - Listen to an audio of Undersecretary Kevin Concannon of the U.S. Department of Agriculture speaking about the need to reauthorize federal nutrition programs at NCSL's 2010 Legislative Summit. Prior to the session, he spoke with NCSL about the role state lawmakers can play. 

"Health and Food Systems - Creating Communities Where Kids Can Thrive" -  NCSL session at Spring Forum, April 9, 2010.

  • Michael W. Hamm [PowerPoint Slides] Ph.D., C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, Michigan State University
  • Manel Kappagoda [PowerPoint Slides] JD, MPH, Deputy Director, National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity
  • Christa Essig [PowerPoint Slides] MPH, Public Health Analyst, National Center for Environmental Health and Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Food, Fitness & Economic Development": Listen to this session from the NCSL's 2009 Legislative Summit in Philadelphia.

NOTE: NCSL provides links to other Web sites from time to time for information purposes only. Providing these links does not necessarily indicate NCSL's support or endorsement of the site.

This site is possible with support from W.K. Kellogg Foundation