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New Study: Voices for Healthy Kids Demonstrates an Effective Model for Change

New research shows that where Voices for Healthy Kids is active, it is improving the lives of those in the community.


VFHKVideoStill1.PNGNew research shows that states where Voices for Healthy Kids is active are improving community health and addressing health equity through policy change. The number of childhood obesity bills introduced and enacted increased the year after the Voices campaign began and, in states with active Voices grantees, the bill enactment rate increased. Additionally, the overall focus of the proposed legislation on health equity is promising for greater community health impact. Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association, has directly supported more than 50 coalitions, in 20 cities and states, working to help all young people grow up at a healthy weight.

This success would not be possible without the dozens of organizations in the states doing the groundwork and advocating for strong and evidence-based policy change to improve the health of their communities.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, shows Voices for Healthy Kids is a promising model for changing policies that improve the nutrition and physical activity environment. The study reports there is more state legislation to improve the health of communities due to the Voices for Healthy Kids initiative. In particular, more bills were introduced related to nutrition of school snacks and beverages, and food access.

Voices for Healthy Kids support, both financial and technical, could increase the chances of passing state policy by 50 percent. In states without initiative support, 10 percent of bills were enacted, compared to 15 percent of bills in states with support from the initiative. As noted in the study, Voices for Healthy Kids utilizes a model that includes leveraging national experts as well as funding for state campaigns. Funding for non-lobbying activities are provided through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The American Heart Association provides additional funding for lobbying activities for some campaigns.

Additionally, there are dedicated staff and consultants providing both strategic and legal technical assistance to state and local campaigns. The study authors report that “the capacity building and evidence based public education, outreach, and advocacy supported by Voices for Healthy Kids appears to be contributing to the introduction and enactment of state-level legislation to address the problem of childhood obesity, particularly among low-income populations.” 

This is outstanding news for a young initiative designed to improve the health of children and communities across our nation. This particular study examined the first year of the initiative and since this point in time, the initiative has advanced and grown in capacity to move policy forward. As Voices for Healthy Kids continues to provide tools and technical assistance to state coalitions, we anticipate more signs of progress towards a culture of health will be evident. 

Watch a video about Voices for Healthy Kids work here.