Skip to main content
Back to Top


Let's Discuss: Multilevel Interventions to Increase Physical Activity & Improve Nutrition and Create Change in Communities

Content on this page is provided for reference purposes only. It is no longer maintained and may now be outdated.
We launched the R2R community of practice several years ago with the aim of bringing together researchers and practitioners in an ongoing discussion around the promise and perils of moving evidence-based programs and polices into practice.  Few aspects of this conversation have drawn the attention of community members as much as the inter-relatedness of nutrition, environment, physical activity and obesity prevention.
In her presentation, Dr. Melissa Laska primary research interests are in environmental, social and behavioral determinants of obesity among young people, including access to healthy foods in underserved communities. Next, Peri L. Nearon outlined the wide-ranging work of ShapingNJ ---- a public-private partnership of more than 230 organizations working together to address the obesity epidemic by promoting healthy communities through improved nutrition and increased opportunities for physical activity throughout New Jersey.
Each offered a unique perspective on the opportunities and directions for how researchers and practitioners can collaborate with one another to improve the health of their communities through shared resources, approaches and interventions.
So, let's continue the conversation online - both speakers spoke to the challenges faced by their interventions and the lessons that they learned.  Do you have questions for our speakers? Please take this opportunity to share your experiences, lessons learned and projects.  


What an exciting session this

What an exciting session this afternoon! We had more than 271 of you join us and are delighted by the robust response.  Unfortunately, we were not able to get to all of the questions posed for the speakers so are looking forward to posting their responses on R2R. We look forward to your continued questions and a robust ongoing discussion.

  • Cheryl asked: "Peri are you looking at cancer and implications of health changed behaviors?"
  • Kanako asked, "Peri: Can you tell us a little bit more about technical assistance and partner networking that you did through social media?"
  • Jill asked, "New Jersey - What kind of outreach did you do to employers and what was your staffing to complete your project?"
  • Annette wrote: "We had planned to incorporate a component to our reduction of obesity program that was targetted to pregnant and breastfeeding women. We have encountered some "pushback" because of this because of some recent articles that contest the relationship between BF and reduction of obesity. Have either of you encountered a similar challenge to addressing BF in your programs for addressing overweight and obesity".

Did anyone else see CDC’s

Did anyone else see CDC’s recent State Indicator Report on Physical Activity, 2014? The report presents data on physical activity behaviors and environmental supports that encourage increased physical activity in each state.

You can use this report to learn what states across the nation are doing to encourage and support physical activity and to identify opportunities for improving community supports in your state.  Individual Action Guides summarize each state’s data and provide suggested actions that state health departments can take to encourage and increase physical activity in their states.

Many of the states studied showed evidence of the issues addressed on the May cyber-seminar: most states have some environmental and policy supports in place that encourage physical activity.  However, more work is needed to ensure that adults and youth have opportunities for safe and convenient physical activity in their schools and communities.  

Policy, systems, and environmental changes are needed if we are going to create communities that value physical activity for all members of all ages and abilities. Individual change is hard when the environment doesn't allow for physical activity. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work, so it is critical to use a community-specific lens when working on policy change efforts.

I am curious to learn how your community uses data such as this report to create/support programming.



Followers of this discussion

Followers of this discussion might be particularly interested in the recent release of Making Strides: 2016 State Report Cards on Support for Walking, Bicycling, and Active Kids and Communities

The report cards were compiled by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership for YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), and funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to support the U.S. Surgeon General's recent call to action to make walkable communities a national priority to help address rising rates of chronic disease across the nation.

Each state was evaluated using 24 indicators across four strategic areas:

  • Complete Streets and active transportation
  • Safe routes to school and active transportation funding
  • Active neighborhoods and schools
  • State physical activity planning

In addition to the state report cards, this report includes an overview of the research that supports walking, bicycling and physical activity as ways to improve health; the rationale for state-level report cards; a detailed explanation of how the states were graded; and reflections on the state of physical activity in different regions and our country as a whole.

The full report and state report cards can be found at  

Do you find resources such as these to be helpful? Do they drive partnerships and interventions?

Today, CDC’s Division of

Today, CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity released its 2015 state- and territory-specific maps on adult obesity prevalence using self-reported information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). I thought followers of this discussion would be particualrly interested in seeing this data.

The 2015 state data maps show that the proportion of adults with obesity in the United States continues to remain high. Estimates across states vary and range from 20.2% in Colorado to 36.2% in Louisiana.  The new state data maps are available online at:

State Highlights from the 2015 BRFSS: 

  • No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.
  • Obesity prevalence in 21 states and Guam was 30% to less than 35%.
  • Four states (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and  West Virginia) had an obesity prevalence of 35% or greater.
  • The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (31.2%), followed by the Midwest (30.7%), the Northeast (26.4%), and the West (25.2%).

Obesity Map

Some groups of adults have more obesity burden than others.

Findings from the updated 2013-2015 BRFSS maps by race/ethnicity found:

  • Non-Hispanic blacks had the highest self-reported obesity (38.1%), followed by Hispanics (31.9%), and non-Hispanic whites (27.6%). 
  • The number of states/territories where adult obesity was 35% or more among specific populations was  2 for non-Hispanic whites, 11 for Hispanics, and 34 (plus the District of Columbia) for non-Hispanic blacks.

 Obesity is a serious societal problem.

Millions of American adults have obesity, putting them at risk for many serious chronic diseases and health conditions. These include:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease 
  • Poorer mental health
  • Certain cancers

There is not one simple solution to address the high levels of obesity in the US. It will take a societal effort. Community leaders, employers, government agencies, and many others can create places that make it easier for adults and families to move more and eat better. Find out how at

I was so delighted ti receive

I was so delighted to receive the publication Driving Action and Progress on Obesity Prevention and Treatment—Proceedings of a Workshop, which summarizes the September 2016 workshop of the same name. You can read and download this publication for free by clicking on the link above. This workshop brought together leaders from health policy, philanthropy, business, health care, early education, nutrition and physical activity, and government to present their visions for improving opportunities for all Americans to move more and eat better, and offered practical steps to get there. The workshop also featured presentations and discussions from former Surgeons General David Satcher and Vivek Murthy, former Director of the CDC Jeff Koplan, former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and many others.

Additional resources from the workshop, including the videos of panel sessions and the Proceedings—in Brief, can be found on the workshop webpage.

The Task Force for Community

The Task Force for Community Preventive Services has added a key built environment strategy to the Guide to Community Preventive Services (a.k.a. Community Guide). This significant development is the result of a systematic review of 90 studies. The Task Force recommends combining one or more transportation system interventions for walking and biking with one or more land use and design components. This one-pager gives more information and insights.

The National Association of

The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors has several new releases that may be of interest to followers of this discussion:

  • The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) Model: A Guide to Implementation. The guide helps schools and school districts interested in adopting the WSCC model.
  • Achieving Impact: State Successes in Improving School Nutrition, Physical Education, Physical Activity, and the Management of Chronic Health Conditions in Schools.
  • Spotlight Stories of school districts that have made significant strides in using the WSCC model.

These resources are available at