Opportunity Meets Planning: An Assessment of the Physical Activity Emphasis in State Obesity-Related Plans

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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In the United States, health promotion efforts often begin with state-level strategic plans. Many states have obesity, nutrition, or other topic-related plans that include physical activity (PA). The purpose of this study was to assess PA content in these state plans and make recommendations for future plan development.


Publically available plans were collected in 2010. A content analysis tool was developed based on the United States National PA Plan and included contextual information and plan content. All plans were double coded for reliability and analyzed using SPSS.


Forty-three states had a statewide plan adopted between 2002 and 2010, none of which focused solely on PA. Over 80% of PA-specific strategies included policy or environmental changes. Most plans also included traditional strategies to increase PA (eg, physical education, worksite). Few plans included a specific focus on land use/community design, parks/recreation, or transportation. Less than one-half of plans included transportation or land use/community design partners in plan development.


Though the majority of states had a PA-oriented plan, comprehensiveness varied by state. Most plans lacked overarching objectives on the built environment, transportation, and land use/community design. Opportunities exist for plan revision and alignment with the National PA Plan sectors and strategies.

Eyler is with the Prevention Research Center, Washington University, St. Louis, MO. Chriqui is with the Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago. Maddock is with the Dept of Public Health Sciences, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI. Cradock is with the Dept of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA. Evenson is with the Dept of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Gustat is with the Dept of Epidemiology, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA. Hooker is with the Dept of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Lyn is with the Dept of Health and Human Services, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA. Segar is the Co-Director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy (SHARP) Center. O’Hara Tompkins is with the Dept of Community Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. Zieff is with the Dept of Kinesiology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA.