Partnerships Central to Success of Obesity Prevention Programs, Study Finds

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.—Partnerships between state health departments and community health programs, government agencies and voluntary agencies are central to the success of obesity prevention programs, according to a new study by researchers at RTI International and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

The study, published in the March issue of Health Promotion Practice, evaluated 28 state programs over a five-year period and assessed states' progress on program requirements, including developing statewide partnerships and coordinating with partners to support obesity prevention and control efforts.

The researchers found that states with greater partnership involvement leveraged more funding support for their programs, passed more obesity-related policies and were more likely to implement obesity interventions in multiple locations.

"Our study underscores the importance of partnerships between state health departments and other organizations in health promotion efforts," said James Hersey, Ph.D., a senior scientist at RTI International and the study's lead author. "It is the partnerships that engage in many of the actions that can help to address problems of obesity."

The research showed that states with higher partnership involvement reported implementing more than four times as many local policy changes as states with lower partnership involvement.

States with high partnership involvement also implemented interventions in nearly twice as many locations.

"Funding of state nutrition, physical activity and obesity programs appears to strengthen state health agency capacity to collaborate with partners," Hersey said. "The partnering organizations are then able to increase the number of implemented nutrition and physical activity interventions throughout the state."