BOX S-2

Conclusions

  1. The country is beginning to recognize that childhood obesity is a serious public health problem that increases morbidity and mortality and that has substantial economic and social costs. However, the current level of investment by the public and private sectors still does not match the extent of the problem.

  2. Government, industry, communities, schools, and families are responding to the childhood obesity epidemic by implementing a variety of policies, programs, and other interventions. All of these stakeholders bring strong values and beliefs to obesity-related issues, but evidence-based approaches are needed to guide the nation’s collective actions in the response.

  3. Current data and evidence are inadequate for a comprehensive assessment of the progress that has been made in preventing childhood obesity across the United States. Although the best available evidence should be used to develop an immediate response to the childhood obesity epidemic, a more robust evidence base that identifies promising practices must be developed so that these interventions can be scaled-up and supported in diverse settings.

  4. Evaluation serves to foster collective learning, accountability, responsibility, and cost-effectiveness to guide improvements in childhood obesity prevention policies and programs. Multiple sectors and stakeholders should commit adequate resources to conduct these evaluations. Surveillance, monitoring, and research are fundamental components of childhood obesity prevention evaluation efforts.

  5. Multiple sectors and stakeholders should conduct evaluations of different types and at different levels to assess and stimulate progress over the short term, intermediate term, and long term to reverse the childhood obesity trend and improve the health of the nation’s children and youth.

These recommendations collectively call our attention to the urgent need to provide more and better information to improve peoples’ lives through evaluation. Stakeholders in each sector are urged to identify and mobilize adequate resources for the evaluation of obesity prevention interventions for children and youth. The recommendations also advance an evaluation process that meaningfully engages diverse stakeholders in the evaluation design and process and that legitimizes the multiplicity of stakeholder perspectives, notably including program recipients along with funders, administrators, and professional staff.

There will be a greater likelihood of success when public, private, and voluntary organizations purposefully combine their respective resources, strengths, and comparative advantages to ensure a coordinated and sustained long-term effort. Evaluations will contribute to building a strong and diverse evidence base upon which promising and best practices can be identified, scaled up, and institutionalized across different settings and sectors.



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