mittee introduces an evaluation framework that can be used by multiple stakeholders to identify the necessary resources and inputs, strategies and actions, and range of outcomes that are important for assessing progress toward childhood obesity prevention. Subsequent chapters provide specific examples to illustrate the use of the framework in conducting program evaluations in a variety of settings. The chapter concludes with the committee’s recommendations that establish the foundation for the implementation actions discussed in subsequent chapters of the report.

OVERVIEW OF EVALUATION

Evaluation is an important component of public health interventions because it helps decision makers make informed judgments about the effectiveness, progress, or impact of a planned program. The committee defines evaluation as the systematic assessment of the quality and effectiveness of a policy,2 program,3 initiative, or other action to prevent childhood obesity. It is an effort to determine whether and how an intervention meets its intended goals and outcomes. Evaluations produce information or evidence that can be used to improve a policy, a program, or an initiative in its original setting; refine those that need restructuring and adaptation to different contexts; and revamp or discontinue those found to be ineffective. Evaluation fosters collective learning, supports accountability, reduces uncertainty, guides improvements and innovations in policies and programs, may stimulate advocacy, and helps to leverage change in society.

Many types of evaluations can contribute to the knowledge base by identifying promising practices and helping to establish causal relationships between interventions and various types of indicators and outcomes. Evaluations can also enhance understanding of the intrinsic quality of the intervention and of the critical context in which factors can moderate4 or mediate5 the interventions’ effect in particular ways. Evaluations are needed to demonstrate how well different indicators predict short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term outcomes. An indicator (or set of indicators) helps provide an understanding of the current effect of an intervention, future

2

Policy is used to refer to a written plan or a stated course of action taken by government, businesses, communities, or institutions that is intended to influence and guide present and future decisions.

3

Program is used to refer to what is being evaluated and is defined as “an integrated set of planned strategies and activities that support clearly stated goals and objectives that lead to desirable changes and improvements in the well-being of people, institutions, environments, or all of these factors.” See the glossary in Appendix B for additional definitions.

4

A moderator is a variable that changes the impact of one variable on another.

5

A mediator is the mechanism by which one variable affects another variable.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement