248858 Local policies related to restaurant menu labeling: Barriers, facilitating factors, and the role of local health departments

Monday, October 31, 2011: 2:48 PM

Donna B. Johnson, RD, PhD , School of Public Health, Nutritional Sciences Program, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Elizabeth C. Payne, MPH, RD , School of Public Health, University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition, Seattle, WA
Kirsten Frandsen, BS , Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Tacoma, WA
Deborah Allen, PhD , Thurston County Public Health and Social Services, Olympia, WA
Donna Oberg, MPH, RD, CD , Public Health-Seattle & King County, Seattle, WA
Molly McNees, PhD , Public Health-Seattle & King County, Seattle, WA
Introduction: Policy development is a public health essential function, but local health departments may have limited policy development capacity. Policy models such as the Advocacy Coalition Framework can be used to understand the policy process and to identify effective points of intervention. Methods: Three local health departments in Washington State took different approaches to improve the restaurant food environment. In King County menu labeling was required, in Pierce County a voluntary menu labeling program was conducted in locally owned restaurants, and in Thurston County menus for children's meals were improved in collaboration with a local franchise. This study took advantage of these different policy approaches to build understanding of nutrition policy development processes. Results: Policy beliefs are key determinants of policy development decisions; there were differences in beliefs about the appropriate role of public health departments in the marketplace and the relationships between health departments and industry. External events such as precedent legislation and support from national organizations were important, but played out differently in each county. The structure of the county Board of Health was also a key determinant. Policy learning, or the ability of opposing actors to learn how to find common ground and work together over time, was demonstrated in King County. Discussion: Application of policy development models can build capacity for policy development. Practitioners can use model constructs to structure planning for policy efforts, take a long-term view of the policy development process and be ready to advance policy when the context shifts in their favor.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify barriers to local policy development related to restaurant menu labeling. Discuss beliefs about the roles and relationships of local health departments and industry. Apply policy model constructs to build capacity for successful policy development.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I supervised this work as a faculty member and PI of the CDC funded Nutrition Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.