Childhood obesity policies in Texas: Which are supported and why?
Methods: Qualitative interviews (n=16) conducted as part of the 2013 Texas Health Perception Survey assessed state legislators’ obesity prevention knowledge, attitudes, and health beliefs. These data were categorized thematically following standard qualitative analytical methods.
Results: Legislators voiced support for improved nutrition and increased physical activity in early childhood programs; utilization of School Health Advisory Councils to improve schoolchildren’s health; and, increased access to healthier food in communities. Legislators’ concerns for supporting childhood obesity-related policies included balancing government’s role with personal responsibility and sustaining funding for more effective results. Legislators supported the use of incentives in policies rather than restrictions: “…because this session they experienced several members trying to restrict what individuals on SNAP could buy, and our office doesn’t agree… increasing access is a better option; [we] need incentives, not restrictions.” Respondents thought that obtaining long-term funding and/or community buy-in would be barriers to passing legislation; unfunded educational mandates were strongly opposed.
Conclusion: Legislative support for childhood obesity-related policies is more likely with policies that: 1. focus on incentives rather than restrictions; 2. balance government and personal responsibility; and 3. provide information on policy funding. When presenting childhood obesity-related policies, providing examples of successful, low-cost, research-based strategies may be more effective in garnering legislative attention, support, and action.
Learning Areas:Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Identify which obesity-related policies resonate with Texas state legislators and why. Identify key strategies to increase legislative support on childhood obesity policies in Texas.
Keyword(s): Public Health Policy, Obesity
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Ph.D. student in Behavioral Sciences at The University of Texas School of Public Health and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living focusing on child and adolescent health.
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.