The Committee relied on specific definitions for commonly used terms in this report. Interventions refer to policies, programs, systems, environmental changes, services, products, or any combination of these multi-faceted initiatives. Assessment is an effort to use data on the community or other jurisdiction to characterize the problem, its distribution, and efforts to address it. Monitoring is the tracking of the implementation of interventions compared to standards of performance. Surveillance is the ongoing systematic, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data that are tracked over time to detect patterns, disparities, and changes that may be associated with interventions or other causes. Summative evaluation is the effort to detect changes in output, outcomes, and impacts associated with the interventions and to attribute those changes to the interventions. In this report, the Committee sometimes uses the term evaluation to refer to all four of these functions. An indicator is a source of data or evidence that can be used to assess the status or trend of a person or population (a measurement, e.g., prevalence of obesity).
OBESITY EVALUATION PLANS
Evaluation plans (for assessment, monitoring, surveillance, and summative evaluation activities) are tools that contain guidance for planning, implementing, and evaluating obesity prevention efforts. A comprehensive evaluation plan can guide decision makers and users responsible for developing or funding evaluations to measure progress in national obesity prevention efforts. Community-level obesity evaluation plans can similarly support identification of key components in implementing evaluations at the local level. They offer guidance at the community level that is sensitive to local variation in needs, context, and resources, and they can help to support aggregation and dissemination of information across communities.
As described in the evaluation process framework in Figure 10-1 (detailed in Chapter 3), an evaluation plan is a key activity (found in Box 2 of Figure 10-1) that provides guidance for organizing and implementing evaluation-related efforts to achieve the intended outputs, outcomes, and impacts identified in the evaluation framework.
The successful implementation of the national and community evaluation plans recommended in this report will require the support of other activities, including a core set of indicators and common measures of success; resources for training, technical assistance, and dissemination; and an adequate evaluation infrastructure. To support these activities, the Committee (1) identifies existing indicators of progress that can be incorporated into the recommended plans, can be helpful in identifying gaps in existing data and information systems, and can provide examples of indicators that can be used by evaluators seeking to evaluate obesity prevention interventions and (2) recommends actions that will improve leadership and coordination, guidance, capacity, and infrastructure for evaluation efforts.
Actions to support and implement the plans and other activities will improve evaluation capacities in the short-term (e.g., use of a core set of existing indicators), increase evaluation activities in the intermediate-term (e.g., improve capacity and guidance), and enhance data use in the long-term to assess population-level changes and improvements that can result from widespread implementation of evidence-based interventions to prevent obesity (i.e., outcomes, Box 4 in the evaluation framework).
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Along with the framework in Chapter 3, the Committee details key findings in this report on dimensions of national- and community-level evaluation, including the information/data needs of those