STOP Obesity Alliance Researchers Find Majority of State Benchmark Plans Are Lacking in Obesity Prevention and Intervention

December 11, 2012

To view the latest, “Weight and the States” bulletin and learn more, click here.

Washington, D.C. – What will the New Year bring when it comes to the ways state leaders address obesity at the state level?  A new report from the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance’s research team at The George Washington University finds as states move into 2013 and work towards putting health reform into place, there is still a lack of coverage for obesity intervention services.  The researchers also found some states are working towards streamlining their obesity prevention efforts.  The research bulletin “Weight and the States,” is based on an analysis of most current information and outlines the following trends:

  • Majority of State Benchmark Plans Are Lacking in Obesity Prevention and Intervention: As states work to implement the Affordable Care Act, many have selected or indicated intent to select specific health plans that will serve as their Essential Health Benefits (EHB) benchmark plan. Most states have selected plans that offer very limited obesity-related services. This means that the vast majority of states will have to supplement their currently selected EHB plans to include intensive behavioral counseling services on or before 2014.
  • Proposed EHB Rule May Exclude Coverage of Obesity Modalities Through 2016: The recently proposed rule from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on EHBs is ambiguous about obesity coverage and could “freeze” plan selections through 2016, which would mean that most states as of now would be locked into excluding obesity-related services for the next several years.
  • Obesity is a Family Affair: The GW team’s research shows that given the strong linkage between parent-child obesity, addressing obesity at the state level is likely to take a whole family approach.
  • Consolidating Efforts to Treat and Prevent Obesity: As encouraged by a recent Institute of Medicine report, some states are consolidating and coordinating obesity efforts underway to maximize efficiency and reach of their state-wide obesity efforts.
  • Legislation Focuses on Supportive Environments to Promote Healthier Choices: An analysis of legislative trends found robust activity on improving food environments and increasing opportunities for physical activity. However, the number of bills actually passed represents a small percentage of the total proposed legislation.

The new “Weight and the States” bulletin also predicts that a focus on adult obesity intervention may be one significant trend in 2013. While activities in 2012 demonstrate the momentum around obesity prevention in the states, medical intervention strategies for adults continue to be limited. “Given the enormous burden of obesity on medical costs expenditures,” said Scott Kahan, director of the STOP Obesity Alliance, “I think we will see states continue to develop new ways to reduce the incidence and impact of obesity as well as refine existing ones.”