Journal of Public Health Policy

, Volume 30, Supplement 1, pp S161–S176 | Cite as

Preventing Childhood Obesity through State Policy: Qualitative Assessment of Enablers and Barriers

  • Elizabeth A Dodson
  • Chris Fleming
  • Tegan K Boehmer
  • Debra Haire-Joshu
  • Douglas A Luke
  • Ross C Brownson
Schools and Youth


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.


children legislators obesity policy 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A Dodson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chris Fleming
    • 1
    • 3
  • Tegan K Boehmer
    • 1
    • 4
  • Debra Haire-Joshu
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  • Douglas A Luke
    • 1
    • 7
  • Ross C Brownson
    • 1
    • 8
  1. 1.Research was conducted at Saint Louis University School of Public HealthSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.WashingtonUSA
  4. 4.National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  5. 5.Center for Obesity Prevention and Policy Research, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  6. 6.School of Medicine, Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  7. 7.Center for Tobacco Policy Research, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  8. 8.Department of SurgerySiteman Cancer Center, School of Medicine, Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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