Today, more than 23.5 million children and adolescents in the United States—nearly one in three young people—are either obese or overweight, putting them on a trajectory of higher risk for serious, even life-threatening health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Recent research shows that states' comprehensive policy approaches to preventing obesity are beginning to bring about declines in obesity rates among children. These policy options make it easier for kids and families to eat healthier foods and be physically active.
NCSL participates in Leadership for Healthy Communities, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that assists state and local leaders in their efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. NCSL's objective under the project is to provide state legislators with information—including evidence-based research and examples of successful approaches adopted in other states—that can support their policy priorities. NCSL will tailor information and technical assistance to legislators to support the actions they choose to take as policymakers. Currently, the project focuses on three priority issues:
- Nutritional quality of all school foods and beverages.
- Availability of high-quality, affordable foods in communities.
- Physical activity requirements and opportunities in school and in out-of-school programs.
The National Conference of State Legislatures has observed increasing and sustained interest among state legislatures in policies designed to promote healthy communities and reduce or prevent childhood obesity. NCSL has produced many resource materials summarizing and discussing state policy trends on these topics and providing more detailed information.
NCSL continues to follow state legislation in 2013-2014 and will post legislative updates periodically. For enacted 2013 state legislation please see the NCSL web page on Childhood Obesity-2013 Update of Legislative Policy Options. Current state legislation of special interest on topics related to healthy communities, preventing and reducing childhood obesity is summarized in Legislative Action Bulletins posted throughout the year, available at the links below:
Additional resources for state and local policymakers produced by other organizations: