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Attorney General’s Vermont Healthy Weight Initiative

On November 17, 2010, Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced the release of the Reports and Recommendations of the Vermont Healthy Weight Initiative (initially announced, 9 months earlier, as the Obesity Initiative). The Attorney General, in his Report and Recommendations, identified a short list of recommended legislative changes, as well as additional priority actions to which he is committing the resources of the Attorney General’s Office to address overweight and obesity. As explained in the remarks of the Attorney General:

Many Vermonters have put in countless hours of work on the Initiative’s working groups to identify the issues, explore the options, and formulate specific obesity-prevention recommendations in the areas of support for children and families, the retail environment, and land use and transportation planning. I believe the working groups’ reports and their recommendations will move Vermont forward in our efforts to address the causes and consequences of obesity in our state.

There is no compelling reason why Vermont does not lead the country in addressing the obesity and overweight problem. The time to act is now. Working together, our health care providers, educators, government officials, average citizens and our business community can adopt healthy weight as a statewide goal. We can commit the time, energy and resources to the effort to make Vermonters, present and future, the healthiest of Americans.

The Reports and Recommendations are posted here:

Report and Recommendations of the Attorney General

Exhibit 1 – Vermont Healthy Weight Initiative Participant List
Exhibit 2 – Vermont Healthy Weight Initiative Recommendations
Exhibit 3 – Examples of Activities to Promote Healthy Weight in Vermont

Report to the Attorney General of the Children & Families Working Group
Report to the Attorney General of the Land Use Working Group
Report to the Attorney General of the Retail Environmental Working Group (including discussion of Tax on Sugar Sweetened Beverages)

Background on the Vermont Healthy Weight Initiative

Obesity and overweight are leading public health challenges in Vermont and throughout the country. In 2003, the Vermont Department of Health established the “Fit and Health Vermonters Initiative,” which focused on prevention with strategies to increase physical activity and improve healthy eating for Vermonters of all ages. The Department of Health, the Department of Education, and other state agencies have been working with many community partners to address this situation.

On February 17, 2010, the Attorney General held the first meeting of a new initiative to identify and develop actions to reduce obesity in Vermont which complement the work of the Departments of Health and Education. The presentations from the February 17 meeting are available below. You can listen to the presentation through the audio link and follow along with the power points linked to the title of the presentation.

  • Attorney General William H. Sorrell: Introduction to Initiative Audio Link
  • Kelly D. Brownell: States as Game Changers Audio Link
  • Susan Coburn: Fit and Healthy Vermonters Obesity Prevention in Vermont Audio Link
  • Laurie Colgan: School Nutrition Programs Audio Link
  • Lindsay Simpson: Physical Education and Physical Activity in Vermont Schools Audio Link
  • Working Groups: Based upon the responses to the questionnaire, three working groups have been created for the initiative. The ideas that fall within each are available here: Land Use, Retail Environments, and Children and Families. (There were also some ideas that did not fall within any particular group.)

    On June 18, 2010, Attorney General Sorrell was interviewed on Across the Fence on his obesity initiative as well as the 2010 legislative session.

    Resources on Obesity

    The following resources have been identified by participants in the initiative and do not represent an endorsement by the Office of the Attorney General.

    Resources for Working Groups

  • Children and Families
  • Land Use
  • Retail Environment
  • General - Vermont

  • UVM Jeffords Center Legislative Research Service, Causes of Obesity (November 11, 2010)
  • UVM Jeffords Center Legislative Research Service, Overall Costs of Obesity (November 12, 2010)
  • UVM Jeffords Center Legislative Research Service, Soda Taxes and Obesity (August 10, 2010)
  • UVM Jeffords Center Legislative Research Service, Medicaid Costs of Obesity (August 6, 2010)
  • UVM Jeffords Center Legislative Research Service, Obesity Research & Community-Based Grants Available to Vermont, May 2010.
  • Lizzy Pope: How We Become What We Eat Audio Link
  • Vermont Department of Education – with links to Child Nutrition Programs, Health Education, Physical Activity, and Physical Education.
  • Fit and Healthy Vermonters: Preventing Obesity in Vermont, April 2006
  • Don Dickey, A Population Health Approach to Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity for Obesity Prevention, Workgroup #2 Final Report to Health Care Reform Commission (December 2007)
  • General - National

  • Solving The Problem Of Childhood Obesity within a Generation- White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President, May 2010
  • National Physical Activities Plan – organized by eight societal sectors: business and industry; education; health care; mass media; parks, recreation fitness and sports; public health; transportation, land use, and community design; and volunteer and non-profit.
  • The US Centers for Disease Control, - provides background information and recommendations, including its Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States - (State and Policy-makers)
  • Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity: Obesity Related Facts for Vermont, February 2010
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Guide to Community Preventive Services -- provides lists of evidence-based strategies for obesity prevention, promoting good nutrition, and promoting physical activity.
  • Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
  • National Governors Association Center for Best Practices:
  • Shaping a Healthier Generation: Healthy Kids, Health America, State Profiles in Progress, March 2010.
  • Shaping a Healthier Generation: Successful State Strategies to Prevent Childhood Obesity, 2009
  • Institute of Medicine: Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity, September 2009
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:
  • Issue Report: F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2009
  • Improving Access to Healthy Foods: A guide for Policy-Makers
  • Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, School and Local Government Collaborations, with local Government Comission (CA non-profit)
  •   Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.