Reversing the Trend in Childhood Obesity: Policies to Promote Healthy Kids and Communities

NCSL Resources

Member Reminder: You must login first to get your free copy.

Cover of Reversing the Trend in Childhood ObesityIntroduction

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has witnessed increasing interest among state legislatures in policies designed to reduce and prevent childhood obesity as demonstrated through enactment of legislation. In an earlier report, Promoting Healthy Communities and Preventing Childhood Obesity:  Trends in Recent Legislation,1 NCSL found similar trends when studying enacted legislation in 16 topic areas during the 2009 legislative sessions. This report focuses on enacted legislation in 2010.  

Report Organization

The report summarizes enacted state legislation in two broad policy categories—healthy eating and physical activity, and healthy community design and access to healthy food. These are further divided into 17 topic areas.

The first broad category focuses on nutrition and physical activity/physical education issues, primarily in schools. It is divided into nine topics:

  • School Nutrition
  • Nutrition Education
  • Body Mass Index Measurement for Students
  • Diabetes Screening at School
  • Insurance Coverage for Obesity Prevention 
  • School Wellness
  • Physical Activity or Physical Education in School
  • Taxes and Tax Credits
  • Task Forces, Commissions, Studies and Other Special Programs

The second broad category—healthy community design and access to healthy food—deals with changes in the built environment, including land use, transportation and agricultural topics, that can create more walkable/bikeable communities and increase access to healthy food through changes in infrastructure and procurement policies. It is comprised of eight issue areas:

  • Bicycling and Walking/Complete Streets
  • Transit-Oriented Development
  • Safe Routes to School/School Siting
  • Joint Use Agreements
  • Farm-to-School
  • Farmers’ Markets
  • Food Deserts/Access to Healthy Food
  • Local Food/Direct Marketing

The report is organized in such a way that some bills may fall into more than one category; for example, school nutrition and nutrition education. The bill summary will appear in each relevant category, with the summary tailored to address the specific provisions appropriate to that category. Proposed legislation that has not been enacted may also be referenced in the narrative description of each category to illustrate trends in legislation that may serve as precursors to laws enacted in subsequent sessions. In these cases, the bills are not summarized.