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Obesity Prevention Policies in U.S. States and Localities: Lessons from the Field

Chriqui JF. Current Obesity Reports, 2(3):200-210, 2013.

Obesity is a complex problem requiring large-scale, population-based solutions. Public policy strategies have been identified as critical tools in obesity prevention efforts as they can benefit all who are exposed rather than simply changing individual behaviors one at a time. This paper reviews the peer-reviewed scientific U.S.-based literature published between January 2012 and March 2013 to examine the influence of state laws and local policies on changes to school and other environments, individual activity and nutrition-related behaviors, and obesity and weight outcomes. Virtually all recent studies have focused on policies directed at the school environment and, across-the board, the evidence was mixed. Most studies were cross-sectional, focused on policy implementation in schools and other settings rather than impacts on individual behaviors or obesity. Opportunities exist for impact studies focusing on a broader spectrum of policies as well as for continued policy actions at all levels of government.

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