185539 Building Local Public Health Capacity to Improve Food and Physical Activity Environments: Lessons from California

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Julie Williamson, MPH , Partnership for the Public's Health, Oakland, CA
Bob Prentice, PhD , Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative, Oakland, CA
Katherine Armstrong , Partnership for the Public's Health, Oakland, CA
Purpose: To share the strategies developed through three initiatives funded by The California Endowment: the Healthy Eating Active Communities (HEAC) Program, the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention (CCROPP) program, which were designed to improve access to healthy foods and physical activity opportunities in 12 California communities through policy and environmental change; and the Public Health Department Mini-grant Program, designed to support planning in 11 local health departments to build their capacity to prevent chronic disease, using obesity prevention as the focus.

Methods: Through these initiatives, the Partnership for the Public's Health (PPH) worked closely with health departments to identify the core capacities most important to increase effectiveness in changing food and physical activity environments, linking this to chronic disease prevention, and then developed a strategy to assist individual health departments assess their capacities, prioritize areas for improvement, and develop plans to build on capacity areas.

Findings: Promising developments in health departments are occurring where leadership at the program and organizational levels embrace environmental approaches, and where they are supported by political and administrative officials. PPH identified seven core capacity areas key to effectively working with communities to change food and physical activity environments: Leadership, Financing, Workforce, Organizational Structure, Communications, Data, and relationships with organizations and communities. To be effective in this work, new roles and capacities need to be developed in each of these areas. This session will highlight the successful strategies, and challenges encountered by health departments in California working to build their capacity to prevent chronic disease.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the core capacities needed by local public health departments to effectively change food and physical activity environments, and how this links to chronic disease prevention. 2. Describe a range of strategies used by local public health departments in California to begin building these capacities, in the absence of funding or legislative mandates 3. Articulate both key challenges and potential opportunities in California and nationally to support the role of local public health agencies in changing food and physical activity environments, and preventing chronic disease more broadly.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked closely with local health departments involved in these programs
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.