Childhood Obesity: Most Experts Identified Physical Activity and the Use of Best Practices as Key to Successful Programs Page: 3 of 78
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To address these objectives, we conducted a written survey to identify strategies and
elements that experts believe are most important to include when designing or
implementing a program to prevent or reduce childhood obesity.1 We chose to
conduct a survey of experts because of the limited availability of information on
evaluated programs that describe successful efforts to address childhood obesity. In
May 2005, 233 experts in academia and the private sector working in the fields of
physical activity, nutrition, and childhood obesity and government officials at the
federal, state, and local levels received the survey. (See enc. III for a copy of this
survey.) We received 141 completed surveys, 23 survey recipients declined to
participate, and 6 surveys were excluded, for an overall response rate of 62 percent.
The survey asked respondents to select from among 9 options related to program
strategies, 17 options related to program elements, and 7 options related to outcome
measures." In addition, respondents were offered the option to choose an "other"
category for each of these questions, in which they could write in a response. Some
respondents selected this "other" category and provided information that may have
overlapped with one of the response options offered in the question. We did not re-
sort responses into different categories. Respondents were also asked to rank the
three strategies and five elements they considered to be most important to include
when designing and/or implementing a program to target childhood obesity. We
analyzed survey responses, calculating weighted frequencies by assigning a numeric
value to weight the choices respondents' identified as the three most important
strategies and the five most important elements. We then calculated an aggregated
score based on the weighted frequencies. We also calculated simple frequencies to
identify how often experts chose a particular outcome measure as important to the
determination of a program's success.
To obtain examples of how selected programs have implemented the key program
strategies and elements identified by experts through our survey, we selected four
programs and conducted telephone interviews with program officials. To select the
programs, we used specific criteria in order to ensure program variety. These criteria
included the program's funding source, program setting, targeted population, and the
program's strategy.12 Of the four programs we selected, federal funding was the initial
funding source for three programs, and one of these programs continues to have
some federal funding. Two of the programs that initially received federal funding are
now supported by nonfederal funds, including local funds. One program relies
exclusively on private funding. Two of the four programs were school-based while
two others were community-based, focusing on communities and including schools.
In addition, one program targeted both children and adults, while the other three
focused primarily on children. These interviews provided information on the
approaches used, problems encountered, and challenges overcome when
implementing the key strategies and elements. In addition, we obtained information
'oIn our survey, we defined a "program" as an integrated set of planned or sequential strategies,
activities, and services that support clearly stated goals.
"The strategies, elements, and outcome measures in the survey were drawn from literature and
interviews we conducted with individuals working at federal agencies and national organizations.
12We selected programs that focused on different strategies using the strategies most frequently
selected on the survey responses received as of May 20, 2005, although we continued to accept surveys
through the end of May 2005.
GAO-06-127R Childhood Obesity
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Childhood Obesity: Most Experts Identified Physical Activity and the Use of Best Practices as Key to Successful Programs, text, October 7, 2005; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc299223/m1/3/: accessed April 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.