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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
are needed to quickly allocate resources for evaluation. Quasi-experimental designs (e.g., ecologic studies and time-series designs) are likely to be more useful than randomized approaches for these evaluations (Chapter 2). Funding mechanisms with rapid review cycles, such as those that are often available from foundations, are needed to foster evaluations of these natural experiments.
Encourage the Measurement of Risk and Protective Factors
As discussed in Chapter 3, obesity prevention efforts do not occur in a vacuum, and it is important to consider the larger socioeconomic and cultural contexts in implementing programs and conducting evaluations. These contextual factors (e.g., poverty, extent of social capital, cultural assets and barriers, and mentoring programs) should be considered during the collection and analysis of baseline and outcome data. Interventions could explicitly target some of these factors, such as collective efficacy, which are known to be associated with childhood obesity (Cohen et al., 2006) and other issues of concern to the community, to increase the likelihood of developing effective interventions by engaging community support and developing partnerships. Interventions that strengthen protective factors, in addition to reducing risk factors, will likely have more resonance in diverse communities.
Disseminate and Use Evaluation Results
In addition to the traditional venues of peer-reviewed scientific journals, lessons learned and evaluation results should be disseminated through health education journals and magazines; national organizations including large grant and nonprofit foundations and professional societies; community health center, school, and community action networks; CDC and other commonly accessed websites; community newspapers; and other avenues of communication to reach a wide range of locally based stakeholders. Journals and organizations that represent communities and regions (e.g., the National Association of County and City Health Officials) should seek out new methods to disseminate and promote evaluation results. Action planning guides that are available to assist communities with their planning initiatives that support healthy living (e.g., Fawcett et al., 2005) should be widely disseminated.
A website repository hosted by a credible authority, such as the National Association of County and City Health Officials, should be developed to share community-based evaluation results and lessons learned, as well as links to resources, templates, and evaluation tools. Lessons learned