States play a key role in addressing obesity and its risk factors through policymaking, but there is variation in state activity nationally. The goal of this study was to examine whether the presence of a consolidated Democratic or Republican “trifecta” – when a state's governorship and both houses of the legislature are dominated by the same political party – or divided government (i.e., without a trifecta) is associated with obesity-related policy content and enactment. In 2016 and 2017, we gathered state bills and laws utilizing the CDC Chronic Disease State Policy Tracking System, and examined the association between state-level political party control and the enactment of state-level obesity-related policies in all states during 2009–2015. The three areas of interest included: policies specifically addressing obesity, nutrition, or physical activity in communities, schools, or workplaces using a public health framework; neutral policies, such as creating government task forces; and policies that employed a business-interest framework (e.g., Commonsense Consumption Acts that prohibit consumer lawsuits against restaurant establishments). Using divided governments as the reference group, we found that states with Democratic trifectas enacted significantly more laws, and more laws with a public health framework. Republican trifecta states enacted more laws related to physical activity, and in some states like Texas, Republican trifectas were exceptionally active in passing policies with a public health framework. States with Republican trifectas enacted a statistically similar amount of laws as states with divided governments. These findings suggest promise across states for obesity-related public health policymaking under a variety of political regimes.
- Physical activity
- State governments
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health