tricts and their neighboring universities, colleges, public health departments, foundations and other public and private agencies and entities that have the requisite experience and skills in developing and conducting evaluations need to be developed and encouraged.
One of the strengths for assessing progress in obesity prevention in the school setting is the range of surveillance and assessment tools that have been developed and implemented in recent years. Because of the interest in collecting data from and about the school setting, it may be easier to assess progress in the school setting than for most, if not all, of the other relevant settings. However, despite the availability of data, gaps remain in the age groups surveyed, the depth and nature of the questions asked and the information collected, the size and representativeness of the samples surveyed, and the ability to retrieve data on a specific state or city. Furthermore, it is difficult to link changes in individual behaviors with changes in the school environment and the availability of data does not guarantee that appropriate feedback will be communicated to policy makers, schools and individuals or that the changes that result are guided by the evidence. Enhancements to current surveillance systems are needed to increase the utility of the information to policy makers and decision makers, and those who work with the students on a daily basis. A number of improvements are under way or should be implemented.
CDC is developing and testing a new component of the YRBSS that will focus on physical activity and nutrition and plans to administer it in 2010. The committee supports this effort to collect more extensive information on students’ dietary and physical activity behaviors and hopes that this survey will be conducted by a number of states at the middle school and perhaps upper elementary school levels.
Innovations in monitoring changes in the school foodservice environment also deserve additional emphasis. The third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study (SNDA) is currently being conducted and analyzed by USDA. Previous SNDA studies were conducted in the 1991–1992 and 1998–1999 school years and provide comparative data. Efforts are needed by USDA and other agencies and organizations to further monitor and assess changes in food and beverage purchases and consumption. Innovative evaluation strategies should be explored. Marketing data and some limited data on the foods and beverages that students consume in schools are available. Strategies and mechanisms need to be in place to allow local-