existing programs, and talked with experts and community members to further their understanding of the local obesity problem, its causes, and potential solutions. In some cases, they noted that they would have benefited from more localized data than are currently available.
Obesity prevention fits within a broader context. All four presenters spoke of the need to define obesity prevention as a component of healthy living, rather than just as individuals’ attempts to lose weight. Obesity relates to issues as varied as public safety, education, and economic development. Successful approaches therefore involve law enforcement agencies, planning agencies, schools, neighborhood associations, public health departments, and many other stakeholders.
Sustainability must be built into community-based obesity prevention efforts. While foundations and public entities focus vital resources and attention on the obesity problem, each presenter noted the need to look beyond such finite sources of funding. For example, the presenters reach out to churches and other community-based organizations, push to have public health departments integrate obesity prevention into their regular services, and provide targeted assistance in leadership development and other skills to nonprofit organizations that can carry on the work. They value receptive elected officials, but also recognize that they must establish relationships that extend beyond the election cycle.
Obesity prevention is a long-term goal. As promising as many of these initiatives are, the presenters noted that eating and physical activity behaviors developed over generations will take many years to change. They stressed the need to view efforts to address the obesity epidemic as a movement and not a program with a narrow focus or fixed period for implementation.
As summarized in this chapter, Gerardo Mouet, Executive Director, Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Agency, Santa Ana, California, discussed the challenges his agency faces in making maximum use of limited open space to benefit city residents. Leslie Bernard, Director of Special Projects, Associated Black Charities, Baltimore, Maryland, spoke about a citywide partnership to reduce rates of obesity, especially among adolescents, and described how its “blueprint” was created. Genoveva Islas-Hooker, Regional Program Coordinator, Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP), explained how a regional initiative has been more effective than eight separate jurisdictions competing against each other for funding and other resources. Finally, Canary Girardeau, Senior Program Associate, Summit Health Institute for Research and Education,