Priority Policies for Reducing Childhood and Adult Obesity

Strong national policies can help children and families eat healthier foods and be active. By creating healthier schools, child-care settings and communities, these efforts can help children grow up at a healthy weight and make it easier for adults to lead healthy lives. The following set of national policies can serve as a set of priorities as leaders work to address the nation’s obesity epidemic.

Nutrition Assistance Policies

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program, helping feed more than 40 million Americans each month.

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Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is one of the nation’s largest federal nutrition programs, serving nearly 7.3 million participants.

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Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

The Child and Adult Food Care (CACFP) Program provides federal funding to states to reimburse providers for the cost of providing nutritious meals and snacks to children and adults in their care.

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Healthy Food Financing Initiative

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) is a public-private partnership that provides grants and loans to finance the construction and development of grocery stores and other healthy food retailers in underserved areas.

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Consumer Information Policies

Menu Labeling

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) required chain restaurants and similar food retail establishments with at least 20 locations nationwide to post calorie information on their menus and menu boards and provide additional nutrition information like saturated fat and added sugars to customers upon request.

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Dietary Guidelines

Every five years, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a series of recommendations reflecting the latest nutrition science for how Americans ages 2 and older can maintain a healthy diet.

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Nutrition Facts

Most packaged foods and beverages include a nutrition label to help consumers make healthy choices. Beginning in 2020, companies will be required to use revamped labels that better reflect current nutrition science and make the information easier to understand.

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School and Early Childhood Policies

Head Start

Head Start is a comprehensive early childhood education program that helps prepare more than one million low-income children under the age of 5 for school every year by providing education, health and social services.

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School Meals and Snacks

More than 30 million children nationwide participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Fifty-one percent of U.S. children now qualify for free and reduced-price school meals.

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School-Based Physical Education

Experts recommend at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity for children. Physical activity provides important benefits for children, including reducing the risk of obesity.

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Safe Routes to School

Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) promotes walking and biking to and from school by providing communities with resources to build sidewalks and bike paths, add crosswalks and improve lighting and signage to ensure safe conditions.

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Health Coverage and Prevention Policies

Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP

Medicare is a government-run healthcare program serving 59 million Americans ages 65 and older. Medicaid serves more than 67 million low-income Americans or those with disabilities. CHIP covers more than 9 million children. 

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Diabetes Prevention Program

More than 30 million Americans live with diabetes, a number that has tripled in the last 20 years.

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Prevention and Public Health Fund

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the first mandatory funding stream dedicated to improving our nation’s public health.

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Interactive Data

State Policy Initiatives

State-level policies also play an important role in preventing and reducing obesity. This feature tracks each state on more than 20 different policy efforts aimed at creating healthier communities for children and families.

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