Helping Communities Assess Their Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity

Developing a set of measures to evaluate community-based childhood obesity prevention programs

Although many communities are implementing interventions to prevent and reduce childhood obesity, the field lacks ways to measure their impact.

From 2007 through 2009, a team at the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified 24 community-level strategies to prevent childhood obesity, and paired each with a measure for evaluating its success. These strategies and measures—which focus on physical activity and healthy eating—are designed to help communities assess their progress and to help researchers compare the impact of different interventions.

Project staff produced Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States: Implementation and Measurement Guide. The guide includes examples of communities that have implemented each strategy and resources for further information. The guide also includes detailed protocols for collecting data on the impact of the strategies, including questions to research and sources of data.

"Normally the CDC does not make recommendations unless they are state-of-the-art science, but in this arena everything is so new," said Laura Kettel-Khan, Ph.D., the project's principal investigator. "To keep moving forward, we agreed to figure out a new methodology that will help us build the evidence. This is the first time the CDC has ever done this."

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