Obesity Prevention Strategies Ignore the Evidence

Obesity prevention strategies being implemented and those considered feasible and effective often do not follow evidence in the scientific literature. That was the finding from a survey of public health practitioners and policy-makers from government and non-government organizations across Victoria, Australia. The study asked practitioners and policy makers about their organizations’ current obesity prevention programs and policies, and explored perceptions about how feasible and effective the participants felt their strategies to prevent obesity were.

In this study recently accepted for publication in the journal Obesity, researchers surveyed a sample of government, non-government and community organizations addressing obesity in Victoria, Australia. Of 304 individuals from various agencies who completed the survey, 39% had an obesity prevention policy, and 92% had implemented obesity prevention programs. The most common programs focused on education, skill-building, and increasing access to healthy eating and opportunities for physical activity. Schools were generally perceived as the most preferred setting for obesity prevention.

The responses reveal a disconnect between practitioner perceptions of the feasibility and effectiveness of programs and evidence-based obesity prevention recommendations, particularly around obesity prevention in school settings. This study highlighted the gaps between intervention research evidence and actual practice. It suggested a need for further research into obesity prevention strategies feasible in real-world settings and more effective methods of translating experienced based obesity prevention evidence into practice.

The study found that while many organizations had obesity prevention programs, few had clearly defined policies for obesity prevention. The study’s authors recommended approaches to ensure that practice and policy will be based on factual evidence.

Click here to read the study.