Panel Discussion on Obesity Prevention Efforts

According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) about a third of U.S. adults and about 17% of children are obese. Additionally, according to CDC obesity places individuals at risk for many chronic diseases with approximately “$147 billion in annual health care costs (1).” The Division of Community Health (DCH) within CDC works with over 100 communities across the United States to build capacity to develop and implement efforts to prevent and reduce the burden of these chronic diseases. DCH supports these community efforts through funding, training, and technical assistance. They partner with a variety of Federal, state, and local agencies and professionals to reinforce consistent public health recommendations and promising practices.

DCH partners with communities through the Community Transformation Grant Program funded by CDC. Through these grants, CDC supports and enables awardees to design and implement community-level programs that prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Awardees are engaging partners from multiple sectors, such as education, transportation, and business, as well as faith-based organizations to improve the health of their communities’ approximately 120 million residents. Awardees also provide funding to community-based organizations to ensure broad participation in creating community change (2).

DCH has contracted with Family Health International 360 (FHI 360) to identify the existing evidence, research gaps, and opportunities to improve communication in populations who are most impacted. FHI 360 experts in the Communication and Social Marketing practice area (3) use innovative communication and social marketing to promote positive social and behavior change among individuals, systems and communities. They develop strategies that address capturing the interests of intended audiences, address obstacles to taking action, and mitigate the negative forces that influence behavior and choice.

In the current project DCH and FHI 360 are convening an expert panel meeting to focus on the opportunities for obesity-prevention communication efforts among African American audiences. The expert panel is designed to identify the existing evidence, research gaps, and opportunities to improve communication with these audiences. Through this expert panel meeting, the Division of Community Health is seeking to gather valuable insight about obesity/overweight and share this information with communities to help them better communicate with African American populations. This information will also assist communities identify the greatest communication opportunities for impacting the reduction health disparities associated with obesity and other related chronic diseases in African American populations.

Change Matrix, LLC has been subcontracted by FHI 360 to assist with planning the panel discussion, participating in conference calls with prospective panelists, developing the discussion guide, moderating the online discussion, and providing a summary report to FHI 360 and CDC.
(1) Division of Community Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(2) Community Transformation Grants. CDC.
(3) Communication and Social Marketing, Family Health International 360.