Evaluating the public debate over fast-food zoning ordinances to inform efforts to prevent childhood obesity

The Foundation's program, Healthy Eating Research: Building Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity, was designed to support investigator-initiated research to identify and assess environmental and policy influences with the greatest potential to improve healthy eating and weight patterns among the nation's children.Zoning policies are a promising solution to improve the food environment in vulnerable communities, in part because they encompass a range of land use regulations that can be tailored to the specific needs of individual communities. This project will examine the extent and nature of public debates over successful and failed efforts to pass fast-food zoning policies in the United States since 2001. Key research questions include: (1) what is the overall extent and scope of the public debate over successful and failed efforts to pass fast-food zoning ordinances, including an analysis of the arguments that advocates and opponents have made for and against these policies; (2) in what ways do debates over fast-food zoning policies in lower-income communities of color differ from those taking place in higher-income white communities; and (3) to what extent do the public debates over zoning ordinances to improve children's fast-food marketing environments reflect differences between the types or strength of policies according to public health criteria. The investigators will collect information about fast-food zoning ordinances, describe the context in which the policies were passed, develop public health criteria to assess the policies, and apply those criteria to a content analysis of the public debates surrounding these initiatives. Deliverables include a framing memo summarizing key findings for advocates and policymakers, a manuscript to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, social media postings, a webinar to disseminate findings, and presentations at professional conferences.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $161,512.00

Awarded on: 12/1/2012

Time frame: 12/1/2012 - 5/31/2014

Grant Number: 70548


Public Health Institute

555 12th Street, 10th Floor
Oakland, 94607-4046


Lori E. Dorfman
Project Director