A major problem with the development and implementation of potential solutions for preventing or decreasing childhood obesity is how to evaluate those solutions while accounting for the many confounding and contextual factors that may affect program delivery or impact. Community-based childhood obesity programs have been shown to be effective for some behavioral or health outcomes, yet childhood obesity remains prevalent and a leading public health concern. Few studies have evaluated multilevel, multi-sector programs that induce the environmental and policy changes thought to be required to impact childhood obesity. Virtually none have reported feasibility, cost-effectiveness, efficiency, scalability, and sustainability estimates for implementing programs on a national scale. The Best Evaluation Tools &Techniques for Effective Recommendations for Policies (BETTER Policies) project will serve as the independent evaluation center for three childhood obesity demonstration projects.
The aims of the BETTER Policies project are to: assist the three DP in identifying assessment methods and tools;design a comprehensive evaluation plan in collaboration with the projects and CDC;serve as the central data repository;conduct an impact evaluation to assess process and outcomes of the projects;disseminate information and recommendations to decision-makers and the public;develop an evaluation toolbox that can be used in future program evaluations. Our complex evaluation design will identify and test causal relationships linking environmental and institutional (e.g., healthcare system, schools, childcare) interventions with changes in determinants leading to changes in health-related behaviors and outcomes. In addition, we will evaluate the delivery, effectiveness, feasibility, and sustainability of program activities. We have developed innovative approaches for collecting, combining, and interpreting information from multiple projects to identify causal and contextual factors affecting program delivery and outcomes. The results will be used to make evidence-based recommendations to inform decision-making about implementing the programs in broader populations and contexts, including potential site-specific program alternatives or modifications based on community characteristics. We will produce a publicly available evaluation toolbox with methods and techniques that are matched to the elements in the CDC "Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health." Finally, we will disseminate the information gained and lesson learned to policy makers and the general public in formal reports and briefs as well as a variety of multimedia products (Web sites, social media sites and links, radio and television public service announcements, etc.).
A major problem with the development of potential solutions for preventing childhood obesity is how to evaluate those solutions while accounting for the many confounding and contextual factors that affect program delivery or impact. The Best Evaluation Tools &Techniques for Effective Recommendations for Policies (BETTER Policies) project will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of three complex community-based childhood obesity programs to determine their effectiveness, feasibility, and sustainability. Results from this project will be used to make evidence-based recommendations that are relevant to decisions and policies for implementing the programs or program components nationally.