Obesity Prevention

From the Public Health Law Blog

When Kids' Lunches Get Schooled: Scaling Back the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

On May 1, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made an announcement difficult to stomach: certain school nutrition standards implemented under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 would be scaled back. As American kids consume as much as half their daily calories at school, reforming school-provided meals can meaningfully impact childhood obesity, which affects over 12.7 million kids and adolescents in the United States.

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From the Legal Assistance Library

Pursuing a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax

The Network recently received a request from a state official for any relevant resources on implementing a sugar-sweetened beverage tax. The official hoped to gather information about what legislation other states have implemented to better inform the pursuit of such legislation in her state.

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See All Related Legal Assistance

Primary Legal Issues

The National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN), a project of ChangeLab Solutions, focuses on a variety of legal issues related to childhood obesity, including:

  • Land use policies that protect and promote community gardens and farmers markets;
  • Complete Streets policies ensuring that roadways are designed with all users in mind, including bicyclists, public transit and pedestrians of all ages and abilities;
  • Economic development and redevelopment policies that enhance access to healthy food and options for physical activity;
  • Components of a strong school-district healthy-vending agreement;
  • Ways for school districts to ensure that students have access to clean drinking water;
  • Lawful restrictions by school districts on food and beverage advertising on campus;
  • Schools’ liability in designating safe routes to bike or walk to school; and
  • Tax increases to pay for improved infrastructure (e.g., parks, sidewalks, street lighting) in low-income neighborhoods.

In addition, NPLAN’s expertise spans to constitutional issues, such as how the First Amendment affects government’s authority to regulate marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, and how the Fifth Amendment affects government’s ability to restrict the uses of land. NPLAN can also provide support on navigating preemption and on drafting strong enforcement language with regard to laws and regulations that affect healthy eating and active living.

Technical Assistance Capacity

Through NPLAN, the Network can provide legal technical assistance to government agencies, community coalitions and public health advocates across the United States. Areas of assistance include developing agreements to open school recreational facilities to the public after hours, increasing access to healthy foods in schools and communities and implementing “complete streets” and “safe routes to school” policies to encourage walking and biking in neighborhoods. Staff attorneys break down “legalese” and make legal concepts accessible to those implementing innovative policies.

Technical assistance also includes developing model ordinances and other model legal tools, conducting relevant legal research and sharing best practices. Technical assistance is offered via in-person trainings, webinars, conference calls and at www.nplan.org.

For legal technical assistance and support with obesity prevention:

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The Network for Public Health Law provides information and technical assistance on issues related to public health. The legal information and assistance provided does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, please consult specific legal counsel. For more information on the type of legal assistance the Network can provide, please see frequently asked questions.