State Obesity Legislation: Community- and School-Based Bills More Likely to be Passed

Analysis of patterns and policy-related correlates of state obesity legislation

Researchers at the St. Louis University School of Public Health conducted an analysis of childhood obesity legislation introduced in all states between 2003 and 2005. They analyzed factors related to the legislation and characteristics of states where the legislation was introduced that might influence whether such legislation passed.

Key Findings:

  • Between 2003 and 2005, state legislatures adopted 17 percent of 717 bills and 53 percent of 134 resolutions related to childhood obesity.
  • Bill-level factors played a much greater role in the success of obesity-related legislation than did state-level factors.
  • Among the factors predicting successful adoption of obesity-related legislation were:
    • Topic area (those with higher rates of adoption had a community- and school-based focus, such as walking and biking paths, farmers' markets, safe walking and biking routes to school and model school policies).
    • Having bipartisan sponsorship and multiple sponsors.
    • Being part of a budget proposal.

The researchers concluded that these modifiable factors offered lawmakers and advocates options for designing legislation that would have an improved chance of enactment.