Rates of childhood obesity are finally beginning to slow, or even decline, in some communities, and this positive development lends urgency and momentum to childhood obesity research efforts. In recognition of National Childhood Obesity Awareness month this September, the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) is calling on partners, public health experts, health care professionals, and others engaged with the movement to show their support for childhood obesity research. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, we are sharing the top three ways NCCOR is accelerating progress to reduce childhood obesity:
States and organizations are implementing comprehensive nutrition education and obesity prevention programs around the country as one approach to address the rise in childhood obesity. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 stipulates that changes in policies, systems, and environments (PSEs) are to be layered with direct nutrition education and social marketing to enable, promote, and support healthy behaviors among low-income people and their communities. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed), the nutrition education and obesity prevention arm of the SNAP, aims to increase the likelihood that SNAP-Ed eligible households will make healthy diet and physical activity choices within a limited budget.
To establish a mechanism to evaluate program effectiveness and report results to funders, NCCOR, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the Association of SNAP Nutrition Education Administrators (ASNNA), and more than 28 states, contributed and developed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP‐Ed) Evaluation Framework: Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Prevention Indicators.
Since 2012, NCCOR has sponsored a Youth Energy Expenditure (YEE) workgroup to support research efforts to achieve consensus on methods and measures for establishing youth energy expenditure values. This is important for efforts to reduce childhood obesity because standardized measures to quantify the amount of energy children expend during physical activity have been lacking. These measures are vital for comparing the effects of physical activity interventions and for cost and benefit research.
Until recently, researchers studying children and adolescents have relied on the Adult Compendium of Physical Activities to translate the energy cost of various physical activities into standardized values. However, the energy costs of physical activity change as children grow and mature, making adult values inappropriate for youth.
In 2013, NCCOR formed the Childhood Obesity Declines Workgroup, to better understand reported declines in childhood obesity. An expert panel convened to start assessing how U.S. cities and counties are developing and operationalizing obesity reduction interventions, initiatives, and strategies. Four communities were identified to be studied: New York City (NY), Philadelphia (PA), Granville County (NC), Anchorage (AK) in order to examine the reasons behind the change in obesity rates and exploring, more generally, how communities can address childhood obesity. The Site Summary Reports for the NCCOR sites can be accessed on the Childhood Obesity Declines Project Page.
Since 2012, NCCOR has worked with USDA to promote evidence-based and actionable tools consistent with the context and policies of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
SNAP-Education (SNAP-Ed), the nutrition education and obesity prevention arm of the SNAP, aims to increase the likelihood that SNAP-Ed eligible households will make healthy diet and physical activity choices within a limited budget. SNAP-Ed is central to USDA efforts to improve nutrition and prevent or reduce diet-related disease and obesity among SNAP recipients. As a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, changes in policies, systems, and environments (PSEs) were to be layered with direct nutrition education and marketing to enable, promote, and support healthy behaviors among low-income people and their communities.
The health care sector is working toward engaging communities to directly address population health, including childhood obesity prevention. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 stipulates that non-profit hospitals and health systems must engage in activities to improve the health of the communities they serve. Exploring the integration of clinic-community programs is vital for moving childhood obesity prevention efforts forward.
This month, NCCOR is hosting a Connect & Explore webinar on “Evaluating Health Care-Community Collaborations: Community-Based Programs.” The webinar will feature two case studies highlighting strategies used by clinics to engage communities in addressing childhood obesity. Presenters will discuss efforts to assess the reach, effectiveness, adoption, impact, and maintenance of programs at the community level.
While childhood obesity remains a global public health challenge, many communities around the world are showing signs of progress and demonstrating innovation in halting and reversing the childhood obesity epidemic. This March and April, NCCOR is hosting one regular and three special-event Connect & Explore Webinars to examine these promising strategies in the United States and abroad.
Are you, your students, or your colleagues studying childhood obesity? NCCOR’s Catalogue of Surveillance Systems is a free, online resource that connects you to more than 100 publicly available datasets. The recently updated Catalogue streamlines the process of finding the datasets you need, expanding your options, while saving you time.
The third edition of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) Toolkit includes more than 80 interventions and 20 resources categorized by target behavior, intervention or resource type, and setting.