Public Health Policy Modification and Its Impact

Introduction

Obesity is an acute issue many individuals living in the United States have encountered. Currently, there are many policies aimed at minimizing the effects of this healthcare problem. The purpose of this paper is to analyze some of the obesity-related policies. The report addresses the prevalence of obesity within the past three decades and the solutions that have been introduced to resolve them. Moreover, the paper reviews the issue from the economic and legal perspectives, as well as the structural features of the policy process. The report concludes that obesity and related policies are highly significant for improving the health state of the American population.

Obesity as a Public Policy Issue

Obesity has been a significant concern in the United States for several decades. As of today, more than 100,000,000 living in the country have obesity (Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), 2019). The history of the policy issue reveals that the problem has become more acute within the past thirty years. For instance, from 1988, the adult obesity rate in the U.S. has increased by about 70%, and the childhood one has grown by 85% (Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), 2019). One of the most significant obesity-related programs available in America is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC was established in 1972 and has been changed several times.

Changing Existing Policies

In 2009, the policy was modified under the circumstances of a growing number of individuals having obesity. The changes of 2009 aimed at ensuring healthier WIC food packages by adding more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and reducing fat levels (Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), 2018). In 2017, WIC was modified again because the breastfeeding rates among WIC recipients had grown while the number of obese individuals had increased, too. The recommendations included providing more fish and reducing sodium (Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), 2018). The existing consequences could have resulted in the fact that the country’s population would continue gaining weight; moreover, breastfed children would be at a higher risk of obesity. These consequences have potentially indicated the need for change.

It is possible to say that modification was related to legislative action. The reason for it is that the Congress requires Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to reevaluate the food packages offered within WIC and ensure that they align with existing dietary guidelines. There have been several other modifications related to obesity within the past decade; the majority of them are legislative actions. Their primary purposes include defining obesity as a chronic disease and clarifying rules associated with children’s health and nutrition (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2018). Moreover, the modifications require child care centers to provide meals and snacks that comply with nutrient intake guidelines and improve the nutrition care standards in such facilities. The purpose for changing the existing policy can be considered decreasing the adverse consequences of poor nutrition and inappropriate food intake among Americans. There is no evidence that the government wanted to maximize benefits by introducing modifications; at the same time, the desire to mitigate obesity among the population is clearly outlined.

From the perspective of the economy, the state the country is in does not seem to affect policy modification significantly, as the changes have been introduced regardless of the economic context. However, it is crucial to mention that some populations are more exposed to obesity than others. For instance, in 2015 and 2016, almost half of black and Latino adults had obesity compared to around 35% in whites (Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), 2018). Moreover, some of the economy-related issues, including those associated with minimum wages, debt, and cost of living, contribute to obesity.

As there have been several modifications to the policy, they all took place at different stages. For instance, the changes to WIC were made at the policy evaluation stage because revisions were recommended (Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), 2018). The modifications introduced on the regional level took place at the policy formulation stage (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2018). The reason for it is that legislative strategies were created to address the problem of obesity.

It is possible to say that healthcare organizations have affected modifications significantly compared to executive agency managers. Such a conclusion can be made because many of the changes have been introduced by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and FNS. At the same time, the local authorities of various states have suggested some modifications to mitigate obesity, too. For instance, within the past decade, Oklahoma, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and other states have contributed to the development of policies eliminating the effects of obesity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2018). Thus, the external factors have exerted more effect on changes.

One of the most significant structural features that have contributed to modern modifications of obesity-related policies over time is evaluation. As mentioned above, the organizations aimed at controlling companies’ adherence to nutrition guidelines are expected to review the effectiveness of existing programs regularly (Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), 2018). Thus, it is vital for them to analyze whether obesity-related policies are useful for minimizing the effects of this condition. At the same time, the stage problem emergence has probably contributed to positive changes, too, especially at the beginning of the century. The number of people living with obesity in the U.S. has not decreased from the 1980th, which has raised public concerns about the issue (Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), 2019). As a result, responsible bodies have started to implement the policies aimed at minimizing the prevalence of the disease.

It is possible to conclude that the modifications in obesity-related policies have shown positive results. For instance, by helping the population to reduce obesity, they contribute to the minimization of healthcare and transportation costs (Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), 2019). By introducing changes to WIC, the government has allowed more people, including breastfeeding women, to participate in the program, which has reduced the risk of obesity in children. Thus, it is evident that the outcomes of policy modifications over the years have been positive for the country’s population.

Conclusion

The report reveals that obesity is a crucial healthcare concern, which has been controlled by related policies. Such policies aim at minimizing the effects of poor nutrition and diet on children and other groups of individuals affected by the condition. The paper shows that the implementation of WIC and legislations have served this purpose for the past several decades. The external factors contribute to changes more than internal ones. The structural features of the policy-making process that have been revealed are evaluation and problem emergence.

References

Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). (2019). The state of obesity: Better policies for a Healthier America. Web.

Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). (2018). The state of obesity: Better policies for a Healthier America. Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2018). CDC nutrition, physical activity, and obesity – legislation. Web.