Mobilizing Rural Low-Income Communities to Assess and Improve the Ecological Environment to Prevent Childhood Obesity


      To mobilize capacity, including policy, system and environmental changes in rural communities to create and sustain an environment and culture of healthful eating and physical activity to prevent childhood obesity.


      A collaborative multidisciplinary team from Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin implemented a community development model testing the value of a community coach in assisting existing health coalitions in improving community environments. Two closely matched communities in each state (randomly assigned as either intervention with a hired coach or comparison with no coach) were provided with funding to support the promotion of healthy eating and increased physical activity of four-year-olds in their community. Additionally, intervention communities received assistance from a community coach. Community environments were examined before and after four years of implementation. Training on the methods of community coaching was provided to the comparison communities at the end of the project.


      Enhancement of a community’s capacity to prevent childhood obesity with community coaching has been and continues to be examined through a mixed methods data analysis approach. Assessments used previously validated instruments, reflections, coalition assessments, interviews and a final ripple mapping exercise.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Introduction and successful use of a new community-based coaching model benefited the intervention communities and they were able to address more policy, system and environmental approaches. Best practices were identified and an online tutorial developed. Sharing of results will be ongoing.



      Supplementary data