U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Resources About Public Programs and Policy

Girl running while flying kite

The importance of maintaining a healthy weight is a topic that has captured the attention of our nation. At the national, state, and local levels, institutions are considering how public policy and practice impact health. The publications in this section highlight how social and economic factors impact our health.

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Readerexternal disclaimer. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Readerexternal disclaimer.

White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the Presidentpdf document iconexternal disclaimer (3.3 MB)
The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report provides recommendations to address this critical topic in today's complex environment. The recommendations focus on four priority areas, which also form the pillars of the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign: (1) empowering parents and caregivers; (2) providing healthy food in schools; (3) improving access to healthy, affordable foods; and (4) increasing physical activity.

Healthy People 2020, Determinants of Healthexternal disclaimer
Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. What makes some people healthy and others unhealthy? How can we create a society in which everyone has a chance to live long, healthy lives? Healthy People 2020 is exploring these questions by developing objectives that address the relationship among health status and biology, individual behavior, health services, social factors, and policies.

Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United Statesexternal disclaimer
This report presents the first set of comprehensive recommendations published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote healthy eating and active living and reduce the prevalence of obesity in the United States. This report describes each of the recommended strategies, summarizes available evidence regarding their effectiveness, and presents a suggested measurement for each strategy that communities can use to assess implementation and track progress over time.

Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequencespdf document iconexternal disclaimer (231 KB)
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 directed the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) to conduct a one-year study to assess the extent of areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, identify characteristics and causes of such areas, consider how limited access affects local populations, and outline recommendations to address the problem.

Your Food Environment Atlasexternal disclaimer
Food environment factors (such as store/restaurant proximity, food prices, food and nutrition assistance programs, and community characteristics)interact to influence food choices and diet quality. Research is beginning to document the complexity of these interactions, but more is needed to identify causal relationships and effective policy interventions. The USDA's Atlas was developed (1) to assemble statistics on food environment indicators to stimulate research on the determinants of food choices and diet quality, and (2) to provide a spatial overview of a community's ability to access healthy food.

Safe Routes to Schoolexternal disclaimer
This toolkit is designed to assist communities in initiating and implementing a Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) program. Many successful SR2S programs began with just one or two volunteers organizing a Walk and Bike to School Day, using the energy generated from a single event to build a SR2S program.

Beyond Health Care: New Directions to a Healthier Americapdf document iconexternal disclaimer (2.9 MB)
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America issued 10 cross-cutting recommendations in 2009 for improving the nation's health. According to the Commission, how long and how well Americans live depends more on where we live, learn, work, and play than on medical care, which accounts for only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of preventable early deaths. The Commission's report identifies possible ways to reduce barriers to good health and promote and facilitate healthy choices by individuals, for themselves and their families.

Leadership for Healthy Communities Action Strategies Toolkitpdf document iconexternal disclaimer (925 KB)
Leadership for Healthy Communities, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was created in 2009 to support local and state leaders nationwide in their efforts to promote healthy, active communities and access to affordable healthy foods. The strategies in this toolkit include potential practices to advance these goals and build upon the work in which policymakers are already engaged.

U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayors' Guide to Fighting Childhood Obesitypdf document iconexternal disclaimer (2.3 MB)
The Mayors' Guide to Fighting Childhood Obesity in 2009 provided suggested action steps that mayors and other local government leaders can take to address the childhood obesity epidemic in their communities in three areas: the community food environment; the physical environment; and the school and out-of-school environment. Each suggested action step is provided with one or more examples of local policies and initiatives or programs that relate to that step.

Transportation and Health Toolkitexternal disclaimer
Developed in 2010 by researchers and national experts including representatives from The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, Kresge Foundation, Nemours, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, this toolkit presents an overview of transportation policy and planning and the connections among transportation, health, and equity, as well as policy opportunities to create healthy communities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) served as critical technical advisor to the committee.

Last Updated: February 13, 2013