218203 OPT (Obesity Prevention Toolkit) for Healthy Neighborhoods: Addressing built environment disparities through the social environment

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 1:15 PM - 1:30 PM

Heidi Hascall, MA, NPM , Health Policy Research Northwest, Eugene, OR
Jenny Hehnke, MS, PhD , Health Policy Research Northwest, Eugene
Tom Musselwhite , Trainsong Neighborhood Association, Eugene
Laurie Trieger , LCHAY (Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth), Eugene
Erin C. Owen, MPH , Health Policy Research Northwest, Eugene, OR
Many factors leading to poor diet and physical inactivity can be attributed to the built environment, recognized as a leading determinant of health that influences physical activity, food access, and transportation options. Not only do low-income neighborhoods experience greater health disparities, but they also often experience low levels of social capital including leadership, organization and political efficacy.

Health Policy Research Northwest designed the OPT (Obesity Prevention Toolkit) for Healthy Neighborhoods program to target built environment disparities, using community-building and comprehensive advocacy planning tools. The pilot project in the Trainsong neighborhood of Eugene, Oregon, highlighted the intersection of health disparities, community engagement, and social justice. In addition to high levels of poverty, Trainsong experiences significant barriers to physical activity and healthy food options, as well as a lack of political engagement. The OPT program involved neighborhood residents in built environment assessments and agenda-setting for environmental change.

Preliminary results indicate that community-based assessments that supplement community concerns with the collection of meaningful data can result in the formation of higher levels of political capital. Direct engagement in the policy process advances greater potential for the sustained ability of residents of low-income neighborhoods to advocate for change. Early indicators of enhanced political capital for the Trainsong residents are visible in the reformation of a neighborhood association, regular community forums, increased funding for neighborhood improvement projects, and the development of a healthy lifestyles council. Our research adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting a relationship between community engagement and increased policy effectiveness.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe an advocacy process that prioritizes community-driven concerns and sustains motivation and engagement of community members Identify replicable ways to provide a data driven platform for articulating the scope of built environment disparities Discuss successful community engagement processes and barriers to neighborhood resident involvement

Keywords: Community Collaboration, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have been a research assistant on this project and have been involved in research having to do with community politics, obesity prevention, and political coalitions.
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.