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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
in communities, neighborhoods, and schools (IOM, 2005a). It encouraged the provision of support for public health agencies and local coalitions in their collaborative efforts to promote and evaluate obesity prevention interventions. State and local government agencies have traditionally and constitutionally been the primary overseers and implementers of public health activities. The important functions of state and local governments mirror those of the federal government and include leadership; the provision of program resources, funding, and evaluation; the conduct of statewide and local surveillance, monitoring, and research; and the dissemination and use of the evidence resulting from evaluations.
Many states and communities throughout the nation are providing leadership through focused efforts to increase opportunities for physical activity and improve the dietary intake of children and youth. The National Governors Association made obesity prevention a priority as early as 2002 and has established a bipartisan task force of governors to provide further direction on this issue (NGA, 2003, 2006). As administrators of state programs, governors are in a central position to promote the societal norms and a culture that supports physical activity, healthful eating, and obesity prevention in their states (NGA, 2006). The Council of State Governments has developed a tool kit for policy options to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent obesity in youth (CSG, 2006).
Obesity prevention was also identified as a priority for local governments in a resolution at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which encouraged and supported local leadership through the implementation of policies, public health programs, and partnerships, including a focus on under-represented, low-income, and socially disadvantaged populations (USCM, 2004).
Several states have developed action plans focused on reducing obesity in children, youth, and adults. Many of these plans were developed through the collaborative efforts of voluntary health organizations, state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and health plans and other business partners (e.g., Georgia Department of Human Resources and Division of Public Health, 2005; North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 2005; West Virginia Healthy Lifestyle Coalition, 2005). Some plans originated with the action of a state agency to convene stakeholders, whereas other plans coalesced under the leadership of a nonprofit organization and then became an integral part of the state effort. In Texas, for example, the state strategic plan includes measurable objectives and sector-specific strategies for families, schools and child-care centers, communities, worksites, the