Evaluation of the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative for Improving Community Capacity for Childhood Obesity Prevention.
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PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES
Policy, systems, and environmental approaches are recommended for preventing childhood obesity. The objective of our study was to evaluate the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative, which aimed to strengthen community capacity for policy, systems, and environmental approaches to healthy eating and active living among children and families.
The Healthy Lifestyles Initiative was developed through a collaborative process and facilitated by community organizers at a local children's hospital. The initiative supported 218 partners from 170 community organizations through training, action planning, coalition support, one-on-one support, and the dissemination of materials and sharing of resources.
Eighty initiative partners completed a brief online survey on implementation strategies engaged in, materials used, and policy, systems, and environmental activities implemented. In accordance with frameworks for implementation science, we assessed associations among the constructs by using linear regression to identify whether and which of the implementation strategies were associated with materials used and implementation of policy, systems, and environmental activities targeted by the initiative.
Each implementation strategy was engaged in by 30% to 35% of the 80 survey respondents. The most frequently used materials were educational handouts (76.3%) and posters (66.3%). The most frequently implemented activities were developing or continuing partnerships (57.5%) and reviewing organizational wellness policies (46.3%). Completing an action plan and the number of implementation strategies engaged in were positively associated with implementation of targeted activities (action plan, effect size = 0.82; number of strategies, effect size = 0.51) and materials use (action plan, effect size = 0.59; number of strategies, effect size = 0.52). Materials use was positively associated with implementation of targeted activities (effect size = 0.35).
IMPLICATIONS FOR PUBLIC HEALTH
Community-capacity-building efforts can be effective in supporting community organizations to engage in policy, systems, and environmental activities for healthy eating and active living. Multiple implementation strategies are likely needed, particularly strategies that involve a high level of engagement, such as training community organizations and working with them on structured action plans.