Multilevel legal approaches to obesity prevention: A conceptual and methodological toolkit

Autoři: Sara E. Abiola aff001;  Michelle M. Mello aff002
Působiště autorů: Department of Health Policy & Management, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, New York, New York, United States of America aff001;  Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford Law School, Palo Alto, California, United States of America aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article



State lawmakers have explored numerous policy alternatives to reduce overweight and obesity. Evaluating effects of these laws is important but presents substantial methodological challenges. We present a conceptual framework that allows for classification of obesity prevention laws based on ecological level of influence and the underlying legal mechanism involved to guide analysis of the relationship between a substantial range of obesity prevention laws and BMI.


Obesity prevention laws (OPLs) for all 50 states and DC were obtained via primary legal research using the LexisNexis Advanced Legislative Services (ALS) database. For legal provisions that met inclusion criteria, reviewers abstracted information on bill state, citation, passage and effective dates, target population, and obesity prevention mechanism. Laws were categorized by ecological level of influence on weight-related behaviors and the legal mechanism utilized to change behavioral determinants of BMI.


Laws designed to increase community-level opportunities for physical activity were the most frequently enacted OPL while laws designed to alter nutrition standards for school meals or competitive foods were comparatively less common, appearing in only 16% and 34% of states, respectively.


Prior studies of obesity policies have focused on specific interventions. We identified and categorized state-level laws that operate at all ecological levels and found that laws passed during the initial burst of lawmaking were largely confined to measures aimed at increasing opportunities for physical activity. Creating public spaces for recreation is an important step to promoting healthier lifestyles to reduce obesity risk; more comprehensive, multilevel legal approaches should also be pursued.

Klíčová slova:

Behavioral and social aspects of health – Beverages – Body Mass Index – Childhood obesity – Obesity – Physical activity – Schools


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