Presentation for the 2008 Active Living Research Annual Conference
In the last few years, many communities have responded to the US obesity epidemic with a variety of initiatives, including strategies that address the food and physical activity environment. In addition, different funding organizations support community initiatives aimed at increasing access to healthier food choices and places to be physically active. Currently, there are no agreed-upon measures to assess environmental and policy changes. The result is a variety of designs and measures used by communities, evaluators and researchers. The lack of a core set of measures makes it particularly challenging to synthesize results from different research studies and evaluations to expand the base of evidence.
The Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention project will identify a set of core data elements that can be used by communities for self-evaluation as well as by program evaluators and researchers who study the physical activity and food environments at the community level. For each measure, a data collection protocol and potential data sources will be identified.
Potential policy and environmental strategies for obesity prevention were identified through a systematic scan of the literature and key documents. Strategies were grouped into like categories and rephrased to ensure that they were at similar levels of specificity. A Select Panel of nationally recognized experts then rated the strategies on the following criteria: reach, strategy sustainability, mutability, transferability, health effect sustainability, and effect size. Strategies were prioritized based on rating results and discussion. Measures for the priority strategies will be identified through a literature scan and expert opinion. Measures will be rated according to defined criteria. The proposed common community measures will be reviewed by a broad group of stakeholders and by an external review panel.
A literature scan identified 270 meta-analysis or review articles published between 2005 and 2007. 145 articles were eliminated based on exclusion criteria. Additionally, 31 articles were not obtained by the cut off date for the review. In total, 94 articles and 7 key documents were scanned to identify strategies for obesity prevention. The scan resulted in the identification of 179 strategies. Select panelists rated those strategies and identified 47 promising environmental and policy strategies for obesity prevention. Additional input from experts on the Select Panel and from CDC prioritized approximately 25 strategies.
Common measures provide communities with tools to focus their obesity prevention efforts. Additionally, they allow projects from different funding streams to collect common measures. For evaluators and researchers, the core set of measures will be useful as baseline variables for more elaborate studies and as part of a foundation for evaluation. The use of common community measures will provide one method to build the evidence base about policy and environmental strategies for obesity prevention.
Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention Project (“Measures Project”) is a collaboration among the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kaiser Permanente Foundation, and the CDC Foundation.