Preventing Childhood Obesity through State Policy: Qualitative Assessment of Enablers and Barriers
As the prevalence of obesity rapidly climbs among youth in the United States, public health practitioners and policymakers seek effective means of slowing and reversing these trends. Recently, many state laws and regulations addressing childhood obesity have been introduced and enacted. Understanding determinants of such legislation may inform the development and passage of future policies. For this study, key-informant interviews were conducted with 16 legislators and staffers from 11 states in 2005–2006 to examine qualitative factors that enable and impede state-level childhood obesity prevention legislation. Commonly cited factors positively influencing the passage of childhood obesity prevention legislation included national media exposure, introduction of the policy by senior legislators, and gaining the support of key players including parents, physicians, and schools. Noteworthy barriers included powerful lobbyists of companies that produce unhealthy foods and misconceptions about legislating foods at schools. Although the total number of informants was modest, their valuable insights provide policymakers and practitioners with a set of enablers and barriers to be considered when pursuing state-level policy.
Keywordschildren legislators obesity policy
- Turnock B . Public Health: What it is and How it Works. 2nd edition. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers; 2001.Google Scholar
- Boehmer TK, Brownson RC, Haire-Joshu D, Dreisinger ML . Patterns of childhood obesity prevention legislation in the United States. Prev Chronic Dis. 2007;4 (3):A56.Google Scholar
- Sabatier P, Weible C . Theories of the Policy Process. 2nd edition. Boulder, CO: Westview Press; 2007.Google Scholar
- Kingdon JW . Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. 2nd edition. New York: Longman; 2003.Google Scholar
- Ulin PR, Robinson ET, Tolley EE . Qualitative Methods in Public Health. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2005.Google Scholar
- Childhood Obesity Policy Qualitative Interview Script. Prevention Research Center, St. Louis University School of Public Health; 2006. Available at http://prc.slu.edu/cops.htm, accessed 2 November 2008.
- Hesse-Biber SN, Leavy P . The Practice of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications; 2006.Google Scholar
- Miles MB, Huberman AM . Qualitative Data Analysis. 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications; 1994.Google Scholar
- Economos CD, Brownson RC, DeAngelis MA, Novelli P, Foerster SB, Foreman CT, et al. What lessons have been learned from other attempts to guide social change? Nutr Rev. 2001;59 (3 Pt 2):S40–S56; discussion S57–S65.Google Scholar
- Mercer SL, Green LW, Rosenthal AC, Husten CG, Khan LK, Dietz WH . Possible lessons from the tobacco experience for obesity control. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;77 (4 Suppl.):1073S–1082S.Google Scholar
- Institute of Medicine. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2005.Google Scholar
- Clark TW . The Policy Process: A Practical Guide for Natural Resource Professionals. New Haven: Yale University; 2005.Google Scholar