individuals participating in a program to methodologically sophisticated evaluations with comparison groups and research designs. All types of evaluation can make an important contribution to the evidence base upon which to design policies, programs, and interventions.

The translation of evaluation and research findings into promising practices constitutes the primary means for accelerating national efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. Since the need for effective evaluation is ongoing, both the capacity and quality of evaluation will be positively influenced by a steadfast national commitment to support obesity prevention efforts and the rapid translation and dissemination of evaluation and research findings—across the geographical landscape—to stakeholders involved in obesity prevention efforts in states and communities. Furthermore, the social and cultural diversity within the United States precludes assumptions about the transferability of interventions from one sub-population to another and should therefore be assessed.

Changing stakeholder perceptions about evaluation—from considering it a daunting task of questionable value to a manageable and highly useful endeavor to inform their efforts—can be facilitated by considering four key evaluation questions to guide childhood obesity prevention policies, programs, and interventions (Box S-1). Although these questions are relevant to obesity prevention strategies and actions across all sectors, not every evaluation can be expected to address all of the questions. Rather, the relevance of the four evaluation questions depends on the type of obesity prevention intervention and the available evaluation resources and technical expertise.


Questions to Guide Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies and Interventions

  1. How does the action contribute to preventing childhood obesity? What are the rationale and supporting evidence for this particular action as a viable obesity prevention strategy, particularly in a specific context? How well is the planned action or intervention matched to the specific setting or population being served?

  2. What are the quality and reach or power of the action as designed?

  3. How well is the action carried out? What are the quality and the reach or power of the action as implemented?

  4. What difference did the action make in terms of increasing the availability of foods and beverages that contribute to a healthful diet, opportunities for physical activity, other indicators of a healthful diet and physical activity, and improving health outcomes for children and youth?

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