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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Communitywide strategies key to preventing childhood obesity


Approximately 25 million children in the United States are obese or at risk of becoming obese, with anticipated negative consequences for individual health as well as the nation's future health-care costs. Effective interventions to prevent obesity require more than educating individuals. To bring about change, we must deploy tactics at multiple levels, from community facilities like parks and bike paths to foods offered in schools. The Spectrum of Prevention proposed in 1999 by L. Cohen and S. Smith first described this approach. UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has helped evaluate large-scale community-based obesity prevention programs and has experience aligning county nutrition programs with new dietary guidelines. This UCCE expertise enables UC to develop more effective obesity prevention strategies and to influence policy addressing childhood obesity. Notably, UCCE's expertise in nutrition and obesity prevention will be applied to implementing a new intervention program. The new program employs multiple components including UC Cooperative Extension materials and community networks and is designed to impact factors contributing to risk for childhood obesity.

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