Obesity Prevention

Public Health Policy to Help Reduce Obesity

| February 13, 2014

Given the severity and scope of the problem and quite limited federal, state and local resources committed to address it to date, it is essential to focus limited energy on policy and environmental change to address obesity.

Advantages of policy and environmental change to address obesity include:

  • Potential for systemic change in a community’s food and physical activity environment.
  • Broad Reach: Opportunity to “level the playing fieldfor all members of a community, including disproportionately impacted populations.
  • Flexibility: Consider the unique characteristics and needs of our community and implement obesity prevention initiatives to address them.

 Criteria for CDC’s Development of Strategies to Prevent Obesity

Criterion Definition
Reach The strategy is likely to affect a large percentage of the target population
Mutability The strategy is in the realm of the community’s control
Transferability The strategy can be implemented in communities that differ in size, resources, and demographics
Effect Size The potential magnitude of the health effect for the strategy is meaningful
Sustainability of health impact The health effect of the strategy will endure over time

Local Policy Examples

  • Healthy Corner Stores: “Healthy corner store” projects have been identified as a strategy to combat obesity by increasing access to fresh produce and other healthy foods at corner stores in neighborhoods lacking full service grocery stores. In 2013, Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth lead an initiative to improve healthy food availability in Lane County communities that lacked access. You can download their report here: Download.


  • Healthy Vending Policy: Our workplaces, recreation centers, public spaces and other places where we spend time outside of the home make up a significant portion of our daily food environment. Typically, this environment includes vending machines stocked with calorie-dense, high in sugar, fat, and salt “junk foods” with few items that might be considered “healthy.” In 2014, Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth did conducted an assessment of vending at recreational facilities and developed a toolkit for creating healthy vending policies. Download


Category: Obesity, Policy

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