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Success of community interventions for childhood obesity varies depending on the target age group
Date:7/13/2010

ablishing community-based intervention, Swinburn said, has been that the effort has been driven by professionals, rather than by a grass-roots movement demanding change.

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign to tackle childhood obesity has provided a significant boost to the profile of community-based intervention, Swinburn said. However, he added that he and other experts in the field are watching the effort with guarded optimism.

"It's fantastic that she has picked it up and elevated it to that level of authority because if something has a high political mandate, it's more likely that things get done. However, as for the likely impact, I am concerned the high visibility means there will be a lot of pressure to produce TV-friendly events to launch the so-called quick wins. However, despite the visible appeal of such events, they may not be evidence of real change," he said. "The very nature of what we are dealing with is that it's not that kind of early-win adventure. It's long-term structural gains, such as implementation of policies around school food service, regulations on food marketing to children and so on, and running against this will be commercial pressure and other political considerations. It takes time to get these less visible, policy interventions up and running and they are not very sexy."

Swinburn said lessons for scaling up successful demonstration projects could be learned from programmes, such as the EPODE programme which started in France, that have focused on systemic implementation of obesity prevention programmes for children. He said that while those types of studies have lagged behind demonstration projects in presenting evidence that the interventions they are using work, they have been successful in getting programmes into national systems on an industrial scale, with centrally coordinated training, social marketing and funding, and in exporting the system to other countries.

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Contact: Emma Ross
rosswrite@mac.com
International Association for the Study of Obesity
Source:Eurekalert

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