Abstract for:How a Childhood Obesity Systems Model Impacted State Policy and Strategy

In 2007, nearly one in three adolescents in Georgia were overweight or obese. To address this public health crisis, experts in obesity, health economics and policy, state legislators, and systems dynamics experts were convened to construct a model simulating the impact of policy interventions on youth obesity. Beginning in 2008, the model was used annually as part of a legislative health education program to inform policymakers about the impact of specific strategies on childhood obesity prevalence through 2034. The model was updated in 2014-2015 to add additional policy interventions. The model has impacted state level actions: 

In 2009, legislators passed House Bill 229 requiring annual fitness assessment in Georgia students in grades 1 through 12; 

In 2012, Georgia Shape, the statewide childhood obesity initiative, implemented classroom-based physical activity as a key strategy, impacting 68% of elementary students; 

In 2018, legislators introduced a House Bill 273 requiring daily recess in elementary and recommending unstructured breaks be available in middle schools.

Using a simulation model to educate state leaders about policies with the greatest impact on childhood obesity prevalence can inform legislation and public health strategies. An understanding of the on-the-ground policy impacts resulting from model use with state legislators may enable other model developers to position application of their model to positively impact state public health strategies.