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Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity
Peggy Beltrone, B.A., is a Cascade County (MT) Commissioner. She is also Chair and Founder of Get Fit Great Falls, an organization that encourages physical activity by organizing free and low-cost outdoor events and providing transportation and equipment for people to get to and use trails. Ms. Beltrone started Get Fit Great Falls in 2004 after attending a U.S. Forest Service recreation summit showcasing a federal effort to use public lands to encourage physical activity. With the forest supervisor at Lewis and Clark National Forest, she began outreach to community members and local health and recreation departments. Those departments and other partners, such as the local hospital, the Girl Scouts, 4-H, and the Great Falls Public School system, have made Get Fit Great Falls a truly collaborative effort. The program has had such success that the U.S. Forest Service held it up as a model in recent congressional testimony. In addition to her work with the program, Ms. Beltrone chaired the National Association of Counties (NACo) Rural Obesity Initiative. A paper addressing the differences involved in approaching childhood obesity in a rural versus an urban setting can be found on the NACo website. Ms. Beltrone is co-chair of NACo’s Mobilizing County Officials to Prevent Youth Obesity, an initiative funded by Leadership for Healthy Communities.
Laura K. Brennan, Ph.D., M.P.H., is President and CEO of Transtria, a public health research and consulting company in St. Louis, MO. She is also an assistant professor of Behavioral Science and Health Education in the Department of Community Health at Saint Louis University School of Public Health. Dr. Brennan received her Ph.D. from Saint Louis University. For more than 10 years, she has participated in designing and evaluating community-based initiatives, conducting community-based participatory approaches to intervention and research, developing and communicating health messages, creating and assessing evidence-based intervention strategies, and performing needs assessment through surveys, interviews, and focus groups. She has participated in multiple projects at the national, state, and local levels to facilitate discussions among practitioners (health, transportation, urban planning, parks and recreation, community organizing), researchers, providers, community members and advocacy groups to assist them in planning efforts to address social, economic and environmental influences on health. Dr. Brennan has published 19 peer-reviewed articles studying behaviors and health, she is lead author of Promoting Healthy Equity: A Resource to HelpCommunities Address Social Determinants of Health, and she is a co-author of Tailoring Health Messages: Customizing Communication with Computer