The ability to make healthy choices is influenced by where one lives, works, shops, and plays. Locally enacted policies and standards can influence these surroundings but little is known about the prevalence of such policies and standards that support healthier behaviors. In this paper, we describe the development of a survey questionnaire designed to capture local level policy supports for healthy eating and active living and findings and lessons learned from a 2012 pilot in two states, Minnesota and California, including respondent burden, survey sampling and administration methods, and survey item feasibility issues. A 38-item, web-based, self-administered survey and sampling frame were developed to assess the prevalence of 22 types of healthy eating and active living policies in a representative sample of local governments in the two states. The majority of respondents indicated the survey required minimal effort to complete with half taking < 20 min to complete the survey. A non-response follow-up plan including emails and phone calls was required to achieve a 68% response rate (versus a 37% response rate for email only reminders). Local governments with larger residential populations reported having healthy eating and active living policies and standards more often than smaller governments. Policies that support active living were more common than those that support healthy eating and varied within the two states. The methods we developed are a feasible data collection tool for estimating the prevalence of municipal healthy eating and active living policies and standards at the state and national level.
Moore, L. V., Carlson, S. A., Onufrak, S., Carroll, D. D., & Galuska, D. (2017). Development and implementation of a local government survey to measure community supports for healthy eating and active living. Preventive Medicine Reports, 6, 74–79. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2017.02.005