Annotated Bibliography: Government Policy and Childhood Obesity

Annotated Bibliography

Cawley, J.. (2006). Markets and Childhood Obesity Policy. The Future of Children,16(1), 69–88. Retrieved from

Through the review of policy analysis, this source is able to take an economic perspective on the childhood obesity epidemic. The author reveals that the way markets operate play a key role in in the cause for obesity due to three reasons. One being that the price of real food has fallen making foods high in fat and sugar cheaper for consumers. Secondly the increase in wages has increased the opportunity cost of food preparation, which encourages an increase of eating outside of the home. Finally, the last element involves innovation through technology, which is referring to the abundance of pre-packaged foods that are now readily available to consumers. Along with economic reasons for obesity, there are also economic solutions but these tend to be much more difficult to formulate. Some examples included in the text are to protect children from viewing advertisements relating to junk food, implement taxes and subsidies on unhealthy purchases that would cause consumers to reevaluate their diet, and lastly to require school to remove items such as soda and candy from their vending machines. There has been a substantial amount of research conducted to convey the negative effect advertising has on children however studies have also been able to show a contradicting argument. There is evidence that there has been a 23% decrease in the time children spent watching television from the year 1981 to 1997. As discussed in, “The school lunch wars” , we have found that the quality of meals being produced isnt favorable for those eating it. This article is able to connect with it because is poses in interesting point that the low quality of food may be derived from budget constraints.

Frieden, T. R., Dietz, W., & Collins, J. (2010). Reducing childhood obesity through policy change: Acting now to prevent obesity.Health Affairs, 29(3), 357-63. Retrieved from

This article specifically discusses the way that educational policies can be used to reduce the rate of childhood obesity. By comparing obesity to smoking in a sense that smoking created serious health just as obesity is doing today. Smoking was fixed though a policy of increasing cigarette prices though higher taxes and the author is arguing that the same can be done for obesity. The per capita intake would see a drastic decrease because a large chunk of the population is price sensitive and therefore is price elastic causing consumption to decrease. This source, like the others, discusses the banning of television ads that are showcasing unhealthy foods but also includes a different approach from the other sources included and suggests running ads that give an affect similar to those of anti smoking ads. These types of advertisements would be able to target ones emotional side and cause them to think more carefully and more often about their food choices. Physical activity is another sector in which school systems have the power to regulate yet many schools have chosen to decrease this time dramatically however, it has the ability to result in lower rates of obesity. This source contains extremely valuable information that directly relates to my research and has expanded beyond just evaluating school lunches. Although there isn’t much about the USDA’s program and the lunches they provide, this source has allowed me to consider other areas that contribute to obesity.

Hinman, K. (2011). The School Lunch Wars. JSTOR, (536), 3-5.

In this source I was able to take a look at an area of research similar to my other sources except from the personal perspective of a woman, Zuluaga, who worked at a professional chef and later took a job that was locating in a public school system. Due to her background in cooking, she found herself in complete shock to see the amount of highly processed foods that students were being served for lunch. She even attempted to cook the meals being served in the cafeteria and replacing them with food such as lasagna with lentils and peppers stuffed barley and turkey. Unfortunately, her actions weren’t accepted by the parents or teachers and especially not with students. With all of that being said, Zuluaga was left wondering how the USDA’s program that was designed to improve the nutrition of children is now being targeted as the culprit of childhood obesity. This is an excellent point that supports my research question by setting the tone of my research by showing how something so simple can affect something as large as childhood obesity. However it does suggest that government intervention in this case is not the answer which has caused me to think a bit differently about what kind of solution is needed and why the USDA failed. This source unlike the others provides information based on the ethics of the food its self rather than the challenge of meeting certain criteria. In other words, suggesting that the problem is the quality as opposed to just preference

Kiener, R. (2014, October 3). Food policy debates. CQ Researcher24, 817-840. Retrieved from

This report recognizes that obesity is highly prevalent throughout the United States and acknowledges several approaches that have been taken to further prevent this epidemic. There is a lot of emphasis put on fitness campaigns such as “Let’s Move!” by Michelle Obama and the “Hunger Free Kids Act” of 2010 that attempt to engage kids specifically in a healthy life style. In “What’s for lunch?” there wasn’t a lot of information about the history of the USDA’s guidelines for school cafeterias but I was able to fill that gap with the information provided in this article. To sum it up, the USDA was at first applauded for its new standards but recently the excitement has died down almost completely and now school systems are struggling to meet the criteria and that it is too costly and on top of that, the amount of “plate waste” has increased. The National School Board is now suggesting that the requirements are a “federal overreach on school meals”

This source is able to deeply evaluate the different policies that have been enacted over the years giving opinions from both the supporters and non-supporters. However, I felt that the amount of in depth detail took away from the underlying problem that I am researching, childhood obesity.

Mantel, B. (2010, October 1). Preventing obesity. CQ Researcher20, 797-820. Retrieved from

The article specifically focuses in on what children are being served for lunch and the relationship to government policy. Although all states are required to follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements, 19 states have chosen to pass additional and separate sets of nutritional standards. The USDA is currently functioning off of guidelines that were put in place in 1995. This has raised a red flag for many states because schools that are only under federal regulation are not making the cut when it comes to providing students with a nourishing atmosphere. This certainty is due to the results of a nation wide survey conducted in elementary schools during 2007 and 2008. However, nutritional professionals that work directly in school cafeterias find this information to be somewhat false due to the failure to include certain questions that could have. The concern now is that if lunches were to include more items to promote a healthy lifestyle, schools would see a heavy increase in costs. As mentioned in “Markets and Childhood Obesity”, industries have become so reliant of substituting quality for a lower price that the idea of replacing cheaper priced goods is almost impossible to visualize. I would have liked to see more information regarding a positive perspective of how the USDA has helped school systems regulate lunches, The majority of the content was offering arguments against this federal program however, at one point in time the policy was beneficial and the question now is what has changed to cause the policy to no longer be effective.


2 thoughts on “Annotated Bibliography: Government Policy and Childhood Obesity

  1. ballen68 says:

    Hi Anna,

    Great job on finding good sources. What I saw was that you were able to locate great sources that are taking a stand on obesity and giving insightful information on the topic. They address a lot of the campaigns, acts, and movements that are pushing to lower obesity rates. However, if I didn’t know your topic, because of previous blog posts that you have done, I’m not sure that I would understand why you are using the resources you are. The reason I wanted to let you know of that is because your other readers won’t know what your final research will be done on, or the questions you are going to be asking throughout your final paper. I think that it would also be beneficial to you to have some of your questions outlined within your annotated bibliography. It helps you once you get to writing your paper to remember what sources sparked what questions. This also helps with connecting your sources to each other so that they are all linked into one larger topic or issue that you will be discussing, the “Big Picture” idea you’ll be addressing within your final research. You do however have great resources that are very informational, and present a lot of the benefits to reducing obesity. I think some questions you may pursue could be along the lines of what implications does obesity have on a society. What would the positive and negative affects be if we were to reduce obesity in America? There are a lot of benefits to lowering our obesity in America, but how will it affect our economy is something I am unsure of. Since you are a business major then this could be an interesting topic for you to explore if it pertains to the topic you are currently looking to present in your final paper. All in all you have great sources to go with your discussion, I just recommend addressing your topic more in depth, and then questions that you have could have been addressed as well.



  2. dgromels says:

    I can tell from reading your annotated bibliography that you have narrowed your research question to focus on policy changes that can reverse or at least slow the trend of childhood obesity in America. Just based on the sources you have included here, I feel like you might have difficulty connecting them fluidly in your paper because they don’t seem to be “talking” to each other. You seem to be looking at policy issues from a number of different perspectives: economic, anecdotal, and political, which is probably why your sources are so spread out. It might be helpful for you to try to focus on just one approach, and with your experience in the business world, I could see an economic approach to policy being very natural for you. You seem to be very interested in the effects advertisements for unhealthy foods have on children, so maybe you could explore policies that would limit the content or prevalence of those ads.

    I would be careful about how you use sources like “The School Lunch Wars” because they are focused on the anecdote of just one person. Therefore, it would be problematic to apply the experience or opinions of the one person to other people or groups. However, you could use it as an example to illustrate a point in your article or even as part of your introduction to engage the reader in your topic. I think your paper could really benefit from the inclusions of empirical studies testing some of the economic solutions to childhood obesity that were proposed in “Markets and Childhood Obesity Policy.” Where and how have these solutions been implemented, and what have been the results? From there, maybe you could make some policy recommendations that can be implemented at the national level.


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