Addressing Childhood Obesity Prevention in Texas

Assessing the knowledge, attitudes, and health beliefs of Texas legislators to advance policy action on childhood obesity prevention
    • October 20, 2014

Dates of Project: November 2012 through March 2014

Description: In 2013, the team of researchers based at two Texas public health schools surveyed 83 members of the 83rd Texas Legislature to identify their knowledge of and perceptions about obesity-prevention public policies. A total of 16 legislators with key committee appointments provided more in-depth information through in-person interviews.

Key Findings

  • Legislators were more likely to support the following public policies: healthier school lunches, more physical activity in schools, teaching parents about childhood obesity and healthier eating habits, health education in high schools, and improved physical activity and nutrition in early childhood programs.

  • Legislators were less likely to support measures that prohibit the sale of soda, chips, and candy in school vending machines and cafeterias, or limit television ads for unhealthy foods and drinks targeted at young children.

  • When asked what role different groups should play in addressing obesity issues, they ranked parents, families, individuals, and health professionals the highest, while transportation groups ranked the lowest, with farmers, employers, and restaurants also ranking low.

As one legislator said, “Increasing access is a better option; need incentives not restrictions.”