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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
mately $2,000 each), collected final reports, and conducted surveys to evaluate the program and collate the lessons learned (Bobbitt-Cooke, 2005).
Develop and Widely Disseminate Training Opportunities
The formal training of individuals working in public health at the local level is highly variable (IOM, 2003). For example, in the United States, less than half of the 500,000 individuals in the public health workforce have had formal training in a public health discipline, such as epidemiology or health education (Baker et al., 2005; Turnock, 2001). An even smaller percentage of these professionals have formal graduate training from a school of public health or other public health program. At the local level the public health capacity for chronic disease control is also often low (Frieden, 2004). These findings suggest that there is a significant need for on-the-job training for public health practitioners, including a significant focus on evaluation of chronic disease interventions that address obesity.
Several practitioner focused training programs are promising. CDC has developed a useful six-step evaluation framework that can guide the process of conducting program evaluation (CDC, 1999, 2002). The Evidence-Based Public Health course, developed in Missouri, trains professionals to use a comprehensive approach for program development and evaluation from a scientific perspective (Brownson et al., 2003; Franks et al., 2005; O’Neall and Brownson, 2005). Each year CDC also sponsors a set of physical activity and public health courses operated by the University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center.
The committee encourages existing training programs to assess their focus on chronic disease and childhood obesity prevention and determine the effectiveness of these programs. Furthermore, federal and state agencies, foundations, and voluntary health organizations should increase the resources needed to widely disseminate and implement effective training programs.
Develop and Support Community-Academic Partnerships
Communities and academic institutions have different knowledge, skills, and strengths that can inform and complement each other when they partner to design, implement, and evaluate interventions to prevent childhood obesity. Academic institutions have strengths in intervention design and evaluation, and familiarity with grant funding, and expertise in writing and disseminating intervention outcomes. Local partners bring indispensable knowledge of their community’s issues, cultures, and worldviews, institutions, resources, and priorities. Successful intervention collaborations respect both types of knowledge.