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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
Key Evaluation Questions and Approaches
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 ObesityPrevention Policies and Interventions
How does the action contribute to preventing childhood obesity? What are the rationale and the 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?
What are the quality and the reach or power of the action as designed?
How well is the action carried out? What are the quality and the reach or power of the action as implemented?
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?