ington, DC, on October 20, 2011, the workshop was titled Alliances for Obesity Prevention: Finding Common Ground.

The organizers chose the title carefully, Kumanyika explained in her opening remarks. The term “partnership” had been considered; however, that term can be interpreted in many different ways and often is applied to public-private partnerships, which were not the focus of the workshop. The planning committee preferred the term “alliances” because it better expressed the focus of the workshop—to explore potential relationships involving seemingly disparate nonprofit or government organizations that may have common ground relevant to obesity prevention. Core obesity prevention groups (e.g., public health departments) are likely to form alliances to the extent that they expect obesity prevention co-benefits to accrue as another organization or sector pursues its primary, non-obesity-focused goals. This allows both groups to leverage each other’s strengths to achieve mutual benefits. Thus, alliances can form between organizations that have different objectives but have identified issues of mutual interest on which they can work together, even if only for a finite period of time, to achieve a discrete goal.

The workshop had three objectives, as described in its statement of task (see Appendix C):

•  to hear from organizations, movements, and sectors with the potential to be allies for obesity prevention, and to identify common ground and engender dialogue among them;

•  to discuss whether and how to develop innovative alliances that can synergize efforts and resources, accelerate progress, and sustain efforts toward obesity prevention; and

•  to learn from other initiatives that have benefited from forming alliances to synergize efforts and resources and accelerate progress.

It should be noted that, given limitations of both time and scope, the workshop could not address all issues related to alliances for obesity prevention.


The chair of the workshop planning committee, Thomas Robinson, Irving Schulman Endowed Professor in Child Health at the Stanford University School of Medicine, has worked extensively on alliances between organizations to prevent childhood obesity, and he elaborated on the rationale for the workshop. Robinson also observed that strategies for the prevention of obesity may encompass environmental-, policy-, interpersonal-, or individual-level interventions. The ultimate pathway for all of these

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