Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Health Services and Policy Management

First Advisor

Janice C Probst

Abstract

Obesity is the leading public health problem in the U.S. Obesity rates in every state are increasing. Local public health agencies (LPHAs) are tasked with prevention and are the foundation for health efforts on the community levels. Conceptual frameworks show that good infrastructure leads to good process, which, in turn, leads to good outcomes. Community-based interventions for obesity prevention, as examples of process, have not proven to be successful. If process is ineffective, perhaps structural and/or environmental factors need to be examined. This study examines what structural factors that influence LPHA participation in assessment, policy development and assurance activities related to obesity prevention from 2005 to 2008. Results showed that more than half of LPHAs in 2008 were engaged in four of 10 essential public health activities related to obesity prevention, and participation in only four of 10 essential public health functions increased from 2005 to 2008. Staffing levels was associated with LPHA participation in assessment and policy development activities related to obesity prevention; presence of community-based partnerships is associated with LPHA participation in policy development activities related to obesity prevention. No structural or environmental factors studied were associated with LPHA participation in assurance activities related to obesity prevention. Future study is needed to understand what makes staffing levels and community-based partnerships effective, and how public health agencies can further the cause to prevent obesity in the U.S.

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