Reducing childhood obesity through policy change

Reducing childhood obesity through policy change



Health Advocacy Campaign on Childhood Obesity

Health Advocacy Campaign on Childhood Obesity

The concern of obesity has been on the American public health domain for the last four decades. Nevertheless, over the last two decades, there has been an extraordinary rise in obesity prevalence in the United States. Several studies have established that obesity is one of the primary contributors to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and different type of cancer in the US (Frieden, Dietz, & Collins, 2010). The increased number of children suffering from obesity has led to the listing of obesity as one of the major public health concerns in the US. As illustrated by Frieden et al. (2010), the rise in obesity prevalence over the past two decades can be associated to the higher rates of type-two diabetes infections currently affecting a significant number of people in the United States. Presently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has listed children and youth as the most common victims of type-two diabetes in the US with more than half the entire population suffering from the disease being children and youth (Frieden et al., 2010).

Childhood obesity tends to persist in individuals all through their lives with most obese children and youth having a high possibility of being obese in their adult life (Kristensen et al., 2014). As a result, it is considered important to ensure that the disease is handled during childhood. Different studies have indicated that the most ideal time to prevent the disease from occurring is during an individual’s childhood development stage. As a result, policymakers in the US have been increasingly showing interest in the establishment of effective policies which can assist in the control of childhood obesity as the primary step in ensuring that obesity is entirely controlled in the US.

Following the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, a high number of obese patients have been attending hospitals for the treatment of obesity or other obesity-related diseases. As a result, a huge proportion of the healthcare budget has been used in providing care to the high number of obese patients. A reduction in obesity prevalence in the country can significantly reduce the US healthcare expenditure since through proper management of obesity can help in the containment of several other diseases which results from obesity.

Previous advocacy campaigns on childhood obesity

Several advocacy campaigns towards the control of obesity in children have been carried out over the past two decades. Some of the advocacy campaigns were successful in bringing changes to the manner in which obesity issues are handled in the US. For instance, through the campaigns, the rate of discrimination against people suffering from obesity in the US has significantly reduced. Currently, obesity is considered as a disease rather than a lifestyle choice as it was previously assumed. Some of the advocacy campaigns include the Healthy, Energetic, Ready, Outstanding, Enthusiastic, Schools (HEROES) Initiative and the Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities (SPHC) initiative.

As illustrated in King et al. (2013), the HEROES initiative was an intervention introduced at the school level which aimed at reducing childhood obesity in Illinois, southern Indiana and Kentucky states in the US. The HEROES advocacy campaign received sufficient support from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. As a result, the campaign managed to push for the introduction of health education and promotion of physical activities in schools as a means of reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity. Correspondingly, the SPHC initiative which was initiated by the Washington State Alliance of Youths also managed to successfully carry out an advocacy campaign aimed at reducing the prevalence of obesity in Washington State (YMCA, 2011). In order to reduce the prevalence of obesity in children, the SPHC advocated for quality and healthy school foods and beverages as well as encouragement of physical activities in schools and communities. The campaign was successful as it led to the introduction of healthy school food program in Washington State.

The two advocacy campaigns were successful due to several factors. These include the fact that the campaigns were extensively carried out by the youth. Children and youth are most of the victims of obesity. Therefore, it is quite easier for governments to understand their issues when they come out together. Similarly, these campaigns were quite achievable as they did not require a lot of discussion and constitutional amendments to implement.

The proposed policy for reducing obesity prevalence

Following the continuous rise in the prevalence of childhood obesity in the US, a countrywide health policy should be introduced to control the consumption of substandard and unhealthy food in the country. The rate of childhood obesity has tripled over the last three decades and it continues to increase (King et al., 2013). Frieden et al. (2010) indicates that it was established that more at least one in every six children is suffering from obesity in the US. The high prevalence of the disease has great implications in the country’s economy as a result of the growing population of less productive individuals and a rise in the healthcare expenditure.

A new policy should focus on reducing the rate of poverty in the country and making healthy food more affordable and accessible to everyone. It has been noted that the majority of individuals who are affected by obesity comes from less income earning families (Gortmaker et al., 2011). Most of the less income earning families cannot afford healthy meals hence resolve in the consumption of processed ‘junk’ food which has been identified as the primary causes of obesity in children and youth (Gortmaker et al., 2011). Through empowering of families financially, it would be easier to avoid the overutilization of unhealthy food as well as increase physical activities like swimming, bicycle riding, and hiking among many other physical activities which reduce the chances of becoming obese.


Frieden, T. R., Dietz, W., & Collins, J. (2010). Reducing childhood obesity through policy change: acting now to prevent obesity. Health affairs29(3), 357-363.

Gortmaker, S. L., Swinburn, B. A., Levy, D., Carter, R., Mabry, P. L., Finegood, D. T., … & Moodie, M. L. (2011). Changing the future of obesity: science, policy, and action. The Lancet378(9793), 838-847.

King, M. H., Lederer, A. M., Sovinski, D., Knoblock, H. M., Meade, R. K., Seo, D. C., & Kim, N. (2014). Implementation and evaluation of the HEROES initiative: a tri-state coordinated school health program to reduce childhood obesity. Health promotion practice15(3), 395-405.

Kristensen, A. H., Flottemesch, T. J., Maciosek, M. V., Jenson, J., Barclay, G., Ashe, M., … & Brownson, R. C. (2014). Reducing childhood obesity through US federal policy: a microsimulation analysis. American journal of preventive medicine47(5), 604-612.

YMCA (2011). Making the case to stakeholders: Linking policy and environmental strategies to health outcomes. Retrieved from:

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