What are Intervention Strategies?
Intervention strategies are broad approaches to address healthy eating, physical activity and obesity prevention. Each of the intervention strategies described in this section can be part of an overall strategy to prevent obesity in states and communities. More often than not, multiple strategies will be combined to create a comprehensive obesity prevention initiative. These intervention strategies answer the question: What are the best available options for taking action to prevent and control obesity?
This list of twenty-six strategies is based on the best available evidence — including prior research and expert consensus — for preventing obesity. The strategies were identified by cross-walking six of the most prominent documents on policy and environmental change intervention strategies for obesity prevention:
- CDC's Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the U.S. (COCOMO)
- CDC's Guide to Breastfeeding Interventions
- The Community Guide by the Community Prevention Services Task Force
- IOM's Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies
- IOM's Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity
- Convergence Partnership's Promising Strategies for Creating Healthy Eating & Active Living
The goal was to provide practitioners with a one-stop shop for obesity prevention strategies. For a complete list of the 26 strategies and the associated supporting documents, click here. In addition, TRT-reviewed interventions provide detailed how-to instructions for implementing one or more strategies in a variety of settings.
Using the information in this section
The intervention strategies can be searched by either setting or topic. The five settings are childcare, school, worksite, healthcare, and community. The three topic areas are breastfeeding, healthy eating, and physical activity. Each strategy summary includes:
- a brief description of the strategy,
- the documents that support the strategy,
- the setting in which the strategy would be implemented,
- several examples of the strategy in action,
- the TRT-reviewed interventions that employ the strategy, and
- resources and tools related to implementation of the strategy.
Intervention strategies described in this section can inform intervention planning by providing a menu of evidence-supported approaches. Consider the following:
No single strategy implemented in isolation will have an impact on the prevalence of obesity: Obesity is a public health concern that affects everyone. It crosses demographic, geographic, political, and social divides. To effectively reduce population rates of obesity, it is critical that those working in the field develop comprehensive obesity prevention programs and policies.i These programs and policies should target contributing factors at multiple levels of the socio-ecological model by using multiple intervention strategies across a variety of settings and sectors.ii
Priority populations — those at greatest risk and with the highest prevalence of obesity — need to be involved in planning and implementing interventions to address obesity: Some groups of people experience disproportionate rates of obesity and overweight.iii Participatory assessment and planning approaches are a critical element of eliminating health disparities. This ensures that interventions are culturally-appropriate, sustainable, and supported by the people for whom the programs and initiatives are intended. i, ii, iv
The effectiveness of these strategies when implemented in different settings and with different populations: Additional considerations for if and how to use these strategies include:
- Has this intervention strategy been used with diverse populations?
- Can this strategy, which has been evaluated in one setting, be applied to/adapted for another setting?
- What other promising intervention methods could be applicable to our work?
The evidence base for policy and environmental change strategies is limited but constantly growing! The evidence base for interventions at the community, policy and environmental levels of the socio-ecological framework is constantly growing as more researchers and practitioners evaluate these efforts. The intervention strategies included here came from recommendations documents published prior to 2012 and new contributions to this field emerge regularly. It's important to stay abreast of the latest research on this topic in order to develop the most effective interventions.
i NSW Centre for Public Health Nutrition. (2005, March 1). Best options for promoting healthy weight and preventing weight gain in NSW. Retrieved June 4, 2007, from NSW Department of Health Web site: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/pubs/2005/pdf/healthyweight.pdf.
ii Brownson, R. C., Haire-Joshu, D., & Luke, D. A. (2006). Shaping the context of health: a review of environmental and policy approaches in the prevention of chronic diseases [Electronic version]. Annual Review of Public Health, 27, 341-370.
iii Matson-Koffman, D. M., Brownstein, J. N., Neiner, J. A., & Greaney, M. L. (2005). A site-specific literature review of policy and environmental interventions that promote physical activity and nutrition for cardiovascular health: What works? American Journal of Health Promotion, 19(3), 167-193.
iv Sahay, T. B., Ashbury, F. D., Roberts, M., & Rootman, I. (2006). Effective components for nutrition interventions: a review and application of the literature [Electronic version]. Health Promotion Practice, 7(4), 418-427.