As evidence grows about the benefits of policy and environmental changes to support active living and healthy eating, effective tools for implementing change must be developed. Youth advocacy, a successful strategy in the field of tobacco control, should be evaluated for its potential in the field of obesity prevention.
San Diego State University collaborated with the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative to evaluate Youth Engagement and Action for Health! (YEAH!), a youth advocacy project to engage youth and adult mentors in advocating for neighborhood improvements in physical activity and healthy eating opportunities. Study objectives included documenting group process and success of groups in engaging in community advocacy with decision-makers.
In 2011 and 2012, YEAH! group leaders were recruited from the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative's half-day train-the-trainer seminars for adult leaders. Evaluators collected baseline and post-project survey data from youth participants and adult group leaders, and interviewed decision-makers.