November 2008

Grant Results

SUMMARY

From 2004 to 2007, researchers with the Health Policy Tracking Service (HPTS) of Netscan iPublishing identified, analyzed, monitored and reported on state legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives focused on child and adolescent nutrition, physical activity and obesity.

Key Results

  • Expanding on an existing database, HPTS researchers tracked state initiatives covering 20 major topic areas that could influence youth obesity.
  • HPTS published charts, summaries and reports of state activities related to youth obesity and provided them to RWJF, RWJF grantees and many health-related organizations. See the Bibliography.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this project from February 2004 through March 2007 with two solicited contracts to Thompson Legal & Regulatory, the parent Netscan iPublishing totaling $144,000.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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THE PROBLEM

Between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of overweight children ages 6 to 11 more than doubled and the percentage of overweight adolescents more than tripled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To curb this rising tide of youth obesity, effective policy and environmental interventions are needed to complement initiatives focused on individual behavior.

In response, an increasing number of states have been passing relevant legislation and implementing policies and programs. Until this project, no mechanisms were in place to track these initiatives consistently.

RWJF solicited this proposal from the Health Policy Tracking Service (HPTS), published by Netscan iPublishing, which provides nonpartisan, Web-based information to legislators. Thomson Legal & Regulatory acquired Netscan in 2005.

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RWJF STRATEGY

RWJF seeks to reverse the upward trend in childhood obesity by 2015. RWJF has developed three integrated strategies to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic: evidence, action and advocacy.

  • Evidence. Investments in building the evidence base will help ensure that the most promising efforts are replicated throughout the nation.
  • Action. RWJF's action strategy for communities and schools focuses on engaging partners at the local level, building coalitions and promoting the most promising approaches.
  • Advocacy. As RWJF staff learns from the evidence and action strategies, it shares results by educating leaders and investing in advocacy, building a broad national constituency for childhood obesity prevention.

This project is part of the evidence and advocacy strategies.

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THE PROJECT

From 2004 to 2007, researchers with the Health Policy Tracking Service (HPTS) identified, tracked and reported on state legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives related to child and adolescent nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Expanding on an existing database, HPTS staff chose 20 major topic areas to monitor and provided reports and updates to RWJF, its grantees and many leading public health organizations.

Public access to the state tracking reports is available online at the Web site of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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RESULTS

According to a report to RWJF, researchers at HPTS:

  • Built a database covering 20 major topics relating to child and adolescent nutrition, physical activity and obesity. The database tracked state initiatives addressing the 20 topics:
    • Access to, and development of, farmers' markets.
    • Access to, and development of, grocery stores and supermarkets.
    • Access to safe walking and biking paths.
    • Advertising and marketing restrictions.
    • Biotechnology (such as labeling genetically modified products).
    • Creation of councils, task forces and commissions to address child and adolescent obesity.
    • Health and physical education.
    • Industry liability lawsuits.
    • Insurance coverage for surgery to treat morbid obesity.
    • Medicaid benefits and services to treat overweight and obese individuals.
    • Monitoring and reporting body mass index.
    • Nutritional reporting requirements by restaurants.
    • Nutritional standards for competitive foods sold on school grounds.
    • Nutritional standards for food and beverages sold in school vending machines.
    • Nutritional standards for school breakfast and lunch programs.
    • Physical education.
    • Prevention.
    • Product labeling and claims.
    • Snack taxes.
    • Soda taxes.
  • Produced and updated charts and summaries of relevant legislative activities in each of the topic areas. This information is available online.
  • Synthesized state actions and trends in both the legislative and nonlegislative arenas in a series of detailed reports. These reports, issued in October 2005, July 2006, October 2006 and at the end of 2006, are available online.

    Project staff also provided these reports to RWJF, RWJF grantees and many health-related organizations, including the American Council on Fitness and Education, the YMCA, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Drew on the research and analysis conducted under this grant to provide:
    • Baseline information to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) about laws and regulations in all 50 states pertaining to school nutrition, physical education and health. The IOM used this information in its September 2006 report, Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
    • A database of state legislation over a three-year period to researchers at St. Louis University so that they could analyze trends. The IOM drew on this analysis for its September 2006 report.
    • Research and analysis on nutrition and obesity to the Council of State Governments. The council used this information in its 2006 and 2007 reports, Trends in State Public Health Legislation.

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AFTER THE GRANT

Work on the Balance Report was moved to the Albemarle State Policy Center in 2007 under the direction of Lee Dixon, the center's director.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Tracking State Initiatives on Child and Adolescent Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity

Grantee

Thomson Legal & Regulatory (Eagan,  MN)

  • Tracking State Initiatives on Child and Adolescent Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity
    Amount: $ 21,500
    Dates: February 2004 to January 2005
    ID#:  049123

  • Amount: $ 122,500
    Dates: March 2005 to March 2007
    ID#:  052154

Contact

Melissa D. Berry
(216) 520-5546
melissa.berry@thomson.com

Web Site

http://www.netscan.com/Outside/HPTSServices.asp

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Reports

State Actions to Promote Nutrition, Increase Physical Activity and Prevent Obesity: A Legislative Overview. Eagan, Minn.: Health Policy Tracking Service, 2005. Available online.

Quarterly Report on State Legislation and Policies Affecting Child and Adolescent Nutrition, Obesity and Physical Activity. Eagan, Minn.: Health Policy Tracking service, 2006. Available online.

Balance: A Report on State Action to Promote Nutrition, Increase Physical Activity and Prevent Obesity, July 2006. Eagan, Minn.: Health Policy Tracking Service, 2006. Available online.

Balance: A Report on State Action to Promote Nutrition, Increase Physical Activity and Prevent Obesity, October 2006. Eagan, Minn.: Health Policy Tracking Service, 2006. Available online.

Balance: A Report on State Action to Promote Nutrition, Increase Physical Activity and Prevent Obesity, End of Year 2006. Eagan, Minn.: Health Policy Tracking Service, 2007. Available online.

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Report prepared by: Paul Jablow
Reviewed by: Karyn Feiden
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: C. Tracy Orleans

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