Using the Socio-Ecological Model to Analyze U.S. Policies for Managing Obesity

By Julia Alber and Diane Hamilton-Hancock.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Obesity is now recognized as one of the most significant health concerns among adults and children in the United States and is regarded as a genuine epidemic among public health professionals. As obesity prevalence among both adults and children has increased, a national imperative to create public policies to address this problem from a public health perspective has correspondingly gained momentum. In response to this growing obesity epidemic, federal, state, and local governments have developed numerous obesity policies. Numerous determinants of health influence the social, physical, personal, and social resources of an individual and their ability to make choices conducive to health. It is to this issue that this research is concerned, namely, to what extent and how are the current obesity policies using the socio-ecological approach and what are the potential impacts of these policies on target populations. Data were collected on state obesity policies and categorized by level of the socio-ecological. The majority of policies identified were at the interpersonal level. A significant relation was found between community level policies and obesity rates. Because some of these policies are relatively new, further research is needed to evaluate the impact of obesity policies.

Keywords: State Obesity Policies, Obesity Prevention and Intervention, Socio-Ecological Model

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.75-87. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 289.530KB).

Julia Alber

Personal Wellness Profile Coordinator and Master's of Public Health in Community Health Education Candidate, HealthyUNCG Wellness Program, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, USA

Julia Alber is a currently a PhD student in the Department of Health Education and Behavior at the University of Florida. She graduated with a Masters of Public Health in community health degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in May of 2012. She received a Bachelors of Science in community health from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She currently works as a graduate assistant at the University of Florida. She has also worked as a graduate assistant for the Office of Academic Outreach, an online degree completion program, and worked for HealthyUNCG, an employee wellness program. Additionally, she has experience working in a public health department, where she provided health education to local schools and organizations. Her research focuses on professional development of the field of health education and investigating how social and environmental factors affect obesity.

Dr. Diane Hamilton-Hancock

Professor of Health Sciences, Department of Health Sciences, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois, USA

Diane Hamilton-Hancock teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the Department of Health Sciences at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. She has taught and conducted research in women's health issues, sexuality education, eating disorders prevention and treatment, and the spiritual dimension of health. Most recently, she has worked in instructional design to train students and professionals in the use of innovative technologies to promote health and wellness. In addition to a Ph.D. in health education, Dr. Hamilton-Hancock also holds a M.S. in counseling and a B.S. in dietetics. Before teaching at the university, she provided health and wellness education to numerous corporations, organizations, and institutions and worked extensively as a media consultant providing heath programming for television and radio.