makers, community and school leaders, health care providers, public health professionals, and grassroots community-based organizations, as well as to apprise the committee of the experiences and insights of the broad variety of partnerships and activities related to preventing childhood obesity throughout the nation.
To respond to this task, the IOM appointed the Committee on Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity, comprised of 13 experts in diverse disciplines including nutrition, physical activity, obesity prevention, pediatrics, family medicine, public health, public policy, health education and promotion, community development and mobilization, private-sector initiatives, behavioral epidemiology, and program evaluation. The committee obtained information through a comprehensive literature review, three regional symposia, and two public workshops.
The three regional symposia were held in Wichita, Kansas; Atlanta, Georgia; and Irvine, California; and served to inform the committee about ongoing and innovative promising practices and evaluation approaches that are being used to address the problem and assess the effectiveness of childhood obesity prevention efforts. The crosscutting themes that emerged from all three symposia to support childhood obesity prevention efforts were to forge strategic partnerships, educate stakeholders, increase resources, and empower local schools, communities, and neighborhoods.
This report, Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?, offers four distinct contributions to the childhood obesity discourse. It summarizes the findings of the three regional symposia; provides an evaluation framework that stakeholders can use to assess progress for a range of childhood obesity prevention efforts across different sectors and settings; measures progress for specific recommendations in the Health in the Balance report; and offers new recommendations for leadership and commitment to childhood obesity prevention efforts including an expansion of the nation’s capacity and action in implementing, evaluating, and monitoring childhood obesity prevention initiatives and interventions.
The challenge presented in this report is to take the next steps toward developing a robust evidence base for effective childhood obesity prevention interventions and practices. Given the numerous changes being implemented throughout the nation to improve the dietary quality and extent of physical activity for children and youth, an overarching assessment of progress in preventing childhood obesity necessitates both the tracking of trends across the nation and a more detailed examination of lessons learned through the evaluations of relevant interventions, policies, and programs. Evaluations produce information or evidence that can be used to improve a policy, program, or an intervention in its original setting; refine those that need restructuring and adaptation to different settings and contexts; and revise or discontinue those efforts found to be ineffective. Evaluation is