Policy-makers at the local, state and federal levels have many options for enacting policies that can help prevent obesity in schools and communities across the country, according to new research published in the Milbank Quarterly. The 11 new studies examine the current body of research and present the state of the science regarding many aspects of obesity prevention and reduction. The researchers analyze which strategies already are improving access to healthy foods and increasing opportunities for physical activity among youth. They also offer recommendations for policy-makers at all levels of government, as well as for the food and beverage industry.
Schools and communities have the potential to address the obesity epidemic by improving access to healthy foods and increasing opportunities for physical activity. So far, strategies have included everything from offering more physical education in school to re-zoning neighborhoods to limit the number of fast-food restaurants and encourage the development of grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Although this research is still evolving, the study authors found that policy-makers have a broad enough array of tools at their disposal to begin to take decisive, effective action.
These articles are part of a special issue on obesity in the March 2009 edition of The Milbank Quarterly available free of charge throughout 2009 at Wiley-Blackwell. Findings and recommendations from the studies are highlighted below.