Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003 to Reduce Childhood Obesity: Its Implementation and Impact on Child and Adolescent Body Mass Index
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Arkansas was among the first states to pass comprehensive legislation to combat childhood obesity, with Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003. Two distinct but complementary evaluations of the process, impact, and outcomes of Act 1220 are being conducted: first, surveillance of the weight status of Arkansas children and adolescents, using the statewide data amassed from the required measurements of students' body mass indexes (BMIs); and second, an independent evaluation of the process, impact, and outcomes associated with Act 1220. Various stakeholder groups initially expressed concerns about the Act, specifically concerns related to negative social and emotional consequences for students and an excessive demand on health care. Evaluation data, however, suggest that few adverse effects have occurred either in these areas of concern or in other concerns which have emerged over time. Schools are changing environments and implementing policies and programs to promote healthy behaviors and BMI levels have not increased since the implementation of Act 1220 in 2004. The Arkansas experience to date may serve to inform the efforts of other states to adopt policies to address the epidemic of childhood obesity.
Keywordsobesity child adolescent parents schools policy
This manuscript was prepared with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funding to support both the Evaluation of Act 1220 of 2003 project and the Arkansas BMI Initiative project. This funding included Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grants 051737, 60284, and 30930.
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