Obesity and Wellness


Obesity and Wellness

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases. To address this crisis, ASTHO is seeking to advance policy, programmatic, and system change to ensure that healthier food and physical activity are accessible in all states.

Ask the Experts: Preventing Childhood Obesity


ASTHO and CDC hosted a virtual session on preventing childhood obesity, with experts from the West Virginia Department of Health, CDC Division of Population Health, Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and West Virginia Prevention Research Center addressing evidence-based programs and key partnerships for developing successful prevention initiatives. Panelists engaged in a discussion about the intersections of community-based research, policy development and public health practice.

CHOICES: CHildhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study

Enabling strategic decisions for public health practitioners.

ASTHO is working with the Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health to support state health agencies in your efforts to use local data to identify effective strategies, identify health and cost impact and strengthen partnerships to ensure all children have the opportunity to grow up at a healthy weight.

The Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES) Learning Collaborative Partnerships (LCPs) presents an opportunity for state health agencies to build capacity through funding, training, technical assistance and locally tailored data to help decision-makers understand and use data on health and cost impact to identify best value for money strategies to prevent childhood obesity. Through participation, agencies will gain skills in using health and cost impact analysis to identify strategies with strong evidence for effectiveness and best value for money. The CHOICES LCP offers an approach for agencies to strengthen their prioritization and planning strategies to improve physical activity, dietary intake and obesity prevention. CHOICES also offers a structured approach for convening cross-sector partners and developing communication messages and products.

Walkable Communities

The ASTHO Walkable Communities Expert Roundtable was held in March 2015 in Arlington, VA. The meeting convened a variety of individuals, from local, city, state, federal, and nonprofit perspectives. This report summarizes the successes, challenges and lessons learned shared throughout the meeting, as well as key expert recommendations when considering how to assist states and localities in improving the walkability of communities.

Obesity and the National Prevention Strategy

The National Prevention Strategy provides evidence-based recommendations for 4 Strategic Directions and 7 Priority Areas. ASTHO has developed an online toolkit with resources intended to help state and territorial governments implement the recommendations in the NPS, including toolkits focused on "Healthy Eating" and "Active Living." These toolkits are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. To view resources in the other areas, please visit the NPS Implementation Toolkit!

Trans Fat Reduction

Consumption of trans fat raises LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. Reducing the consumption of trans fat could prevent thousands of heart disease deaths each year.

In November 2013, the FDA made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of trans-fat in processed foods, are not "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) for use in food. ASTHO submitted a comment to the FDA on January 31, 2014 urging them to enact regulations to eliminate PHOs from the food supply. Read more about trans fat reduction »

Improving School-Based Physical Activity and Nutrition

ASTHO partnered with the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) to facilitate enhanced collaboration between Education and Public Health to develop policy action plans that address quality physical activity and nutrition in schools. Visit NASBE for more information.

Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act Issue Brief

As part of this work, ASTHO and the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Nutrition Directors developed a document to highlight the role of state health agencies in the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act. This legislation will allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve nutrition standards for reimbursable school meals and also set standards for all meals sold in schools in order to combat childhood obesity.

The issue brief identifies key components of the Act and emphasizes partnerships with departments of education and agriculture around programs such as the WIC program, the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). It also includes a state-by-state summary of agency oversight for WIC, SNAP, CACFP, and childcare licensing.

Publishing Guidelines for Incorporating Health Criteria into School Curriculum

ASTHO, NASBE, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) collaborated to create publishing guidelines that facilitate the increase of health criteria in school curriculum by incorporating the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines suggest methods to incorporate information and examples in the areas of nutrition, physical education/activity, and healthy behaviors.

Other School Health and Wellness Resources

Health Impact Assessments

Built environment, transportation, agriculture and other policies can directly affect access to healthy food and physical activity. Health impact assessments (HIA) can be used to address this challenge. HIAs objectively evaluate the potential health effects of a project or policy before it is implemented. They can provide recommendations to increase positive health outcomes and can help decision-makers better assess proposals, avoid unintended consequences and costs, maximize benefits and advance policies to promote public health. ASTHO, in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC) program, awarded three states; South Carolina, Arizona and Kentucky to strengthen their health agencies’ capacity to undertake a health impact assessment (HIA) of a policy or project to address healthy eating and active living.

HIA Main Page

Leadership for Healthy Communities Project  

Collaborate for a Healthy Weight

ASTHO is partnering with the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality on the Healthy Weight Collaborative (HWC), a vital piece of the Collaborate for Healthy Weight project. Read more »  

Worksite Wellness in State Public Health Agencies

ASTHO encourages all state health agencies to consider the emotional and physical well-being of their employees and to consider how worksite wellness programs can help support this effort. Read more »