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The Voices for Healthy Kids and State Legislation to Prevent Childhood Obesity: An Update

      Introduction

      The purpose of this study is to examine general time trends in childhood obesity legislative activity in all 50 states (overall and by health equity focus) and whether the Voices for Healthy Kids Campaign (Voices) was associated with increased legislative activity.

      Methods

      LexisNexis State Capital was used to identify bills related to childhood obesity from 2012 to 2016. Linear and linear probability models were used to assess general time trends and regression-based difference-in-difference models to assess whether time trends differed for states that received a Voices grant. The data were analyzed in 2017.

      Results

      A total of 989 bills were introduced (Year 1=304, Year 2=364; Year 3=321), and a total of 93 bills were enacted (Year 1=34, Year 2=24, Year 3=35) after baseline. The mean number of bills introduced (baseline=4.3, Year 1=6.6, Year 2=7.3, Year 3=7.0, p=0.007), and the average state enactment rate (baseline=11%, Year 1=16%, Year 2=8%, Year 3=27%, p-trend=0.02) increased significantly. States with Voices grantees introduced 2.1 more bills than non-grantee states (p=0.04). The estimated difference over time in bill enactment and health equity focus did not differ by Voices grantee status.

      Conclusions

      Childhood obesity bill introduction and enactment increased between 2013 and 2016. The evidence-based advocacy supported by Voices appears to be significantly associated with greater increases in state-level bill introduction, but not enactment of legislation to address childhood obesity.
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