The campaign has received approximately $210 million in donated media support. An evaluation of SmallStep has shown that respondents who had seen at least one of the PSAs were more likely than those who had not seen the campaign to report that they had already changed their diet and physical activity habits (27 percent compared with 14 percent) (Ad Council, 2006). Ongoing support and evaluation of this program are recommended given the potential reach and influence of the media in socializing the public, especially young people. Further, DHHS and its partners should work to further coordinate this campaign and related dissemination activities with other federal agencies. Print, broadcast, and electronic media should include the promotion of positive role models and healthy lifestyles.

However, the CDC’s VERB™—It’s what you do., described in Box 4-5, is an example of a federal program initially funded at scale that even

efficacy, self-esteem, and belonging to their peer group (Aeffect, Inc., 2005; CDC, 2006a).

Process Evaluation

Evaluations have examined process measures to ensure that the campaign was being implemented as planned. A quarterly tracking survey was conducted to assess that the brand and messages continued to appeal to tweens and that the high awareness of the campaign was maintained over time (CDC, 2006d).

Outcome Evaluation

The cognitive and behavioral outcomes of the VERB campaign have been tracked annually through the Youth Media Campaign Longitudinal Survey (YMCLS). During the first years of the campaign, the level of awareness of the VERB campaign among the target audience was high, and was associated with higher levels of physical activity in tweens who were exposed to and aware of VERB (Huhman et al., 2005, 2007). Evaluation of VERB through FY 2006, monitored through the YMCLS, will allow continued comparison of physical activity levels in tweens who were exposed to the campaign and those who were not exposed (Huhman, 2006). Additionally, surveillance data collected through the YMCLS will be publicly available in 2008 (Faye Wong, CDC, personal communication, August 8, 2006).

Lessons Learned

Despite evidence of success and widespread knowledge of the importance of physical activity in preventing childhood obesity, there was inadequate support in the administration and Congress for continuing VERB, and insufficient external support to encourage sustained funding. A major challenge for the VERB campaign was to sustain children’s awareness and motivation to be physically active despite the progressive reduction in federal support over its 5-year authorization. Federal funding for the campaign was $125 million in FY 2001, reduced to $68 million in FY 2002, $51 million in FY 2003, $36 million in FY 2004, and increased to $59 million in FY 2005. Over the 5-year period, the average cost of the VERB campaign was $68 million/year.

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