Three years after enactment, assessments of one of the earliest comprehensive pieces of state legislation to fight childhood obesity show the weight status of Arkansas children may be stabilized and there have been positive changes in environments and policies that should support ongoing improvement. But implementing the act's intent faces ongoing political and practical challenges, according to this study which appears in a supplement to the Journal of Public Health Policy reporting on the 2008 Active Living Research Conference.
When this act was passed, including the unfunded mandate that public schools measure and report to parents the body mass index (BMI) of their children, objections ranged from philosophical, regarding parent and children's rights, to fears of unintended negative consequences. Since then, the act and its implementation have been modified to meet concerns. This study assesses progress in reducing BMIs, and examines whether negative byproducts feared by opponents have occurred.
Act 1220 is a landmark piece of legislation. Other states, as well as the research and policy communities, are looking to "go to school" on Arkansas' experience. The act's impact and implementation needs to continue to be monitored closely.