Changing stakeholder perceptions about evaluation—from a daunting task of questionable value to a manageable and highly useful endeavor that informs future efforts—can be facilitated by considering four key evaluation questions to guide childhood obesity prevention policies and interventions. Although these questions are relevant to obesity prevention actions, strategies, and programs across all sectors, not every evaluation can be expected to address all of the questions.
The relevance of the four evaluation questions (Box 2-3) depends on the type of the obesity prevention action, policy, or program and the available evaluation capacity (e.g., resources and technical expertise). The majority of childhood obesity prevention interventions are implemented at the local level, where the resources, time, opportunities, skills, and capacity for conducting an evaluation are often limited compared with those available to academic institutions and state or federal governmental agencies. Although some of the evaluation capacity gap can be filled through collaborative partnerships between local agencies and academic institutions, a large portion of locally implemented interventions will occur with no opportunity for conducting a full-scale evaluation. Yet all promising childhood obesity prevention interventions deserve some level of evaluation. Small-scale, grassroots, and exploratory efforts can be evaluated inexpensively and modestly, and if deemed appropriate, subjected to a more sophisticated evaluation at a later stage.
CDC and RWJF are in an early stage of collaborating on a process called the Pre-Assessment of Community-Based Obesity Prevention Interventions Project to identify promising interventions that meet certain ob-
Questions to Guide Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies and Interventions