State Actions to Promote Healthy Communities and Prevent Childhood Obesity

Summary and Analysis of Trends in Legislation

This report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through its Leadership for Healthy Communities program, is an annual analysis conducted by National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) that examines state legislative action to address childhood obesity.

State legislatures in 2011 continued to enact laws to promote healthy communities and prevent childhood obesity. Although the overall level of activity was not as high as in 2010 in terms of number of bills enacted, more states enacted laws than in the previous year. States with the highest levels of childhood obesity—those primarily in the Southeast and Southwest—are taking action to address it.

Thirteen states passed bills related to school nutrition/nutrition education, complementing federal legislation enacted in 2010 that reauthorized the national School Lunch and School Breakfast programs and set higher nutrition standards for school meals. State legislative action also progressed on complete streets policies, which consider and accommodate the needs of all transportation users, including bicyclists and pedestrians. Three states passed complete streets bills in 2011, bringing the total number of states with such policies to 26–more than half the nation.