In this introduction to a supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, authors Leviton and Strunk introduce the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living by Design (ALbD) program and its evaluation.
The authors note that an evaluation of behavior change outcomes was the original evaluation plan, but became unworkable. Instead, in 2005, a smaller evaluation of ALbD was implemented focusing on policy and environment change. There were two components to this re-designed evaluation. Transtria LLC conducted a cross-site evaluation assessing if modest grants for planning, implementation, and advocacy could achieve changes in the policy and built environments. Second, using comprehensive workplans, local academic partners in Somerville, Mass. and Columbia, Mo., studied behavior change in their communities. Early policy and environmental changes proved these communities to be learning laboratories.
The authors observe that all of the supplement’s articles on ALbD have limitations, but provide an understanding of the change that occurred within ALbD environments over a five-year period. Looking forward, the ALbD program and evaluation help to identify and specify interventions that can be used and tested in the future.
Active Living by Design creates community-led change by working with local and national partners to build a culture of active living and healthy eating. Established by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ALbD is part of the North Carolina Institute for Public Health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
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