It Can Be Overwhelming - So Check Here First

It Can Be Overwhelming - So Check Here First

By Jane H. Adams
Executive Director

Summer 2008
Volume 64, No. 3 
Page 20

As avid users of the Internet and compulsive “down-loaders” of what we find there, here are Web sites we regularly visit to stay on top of what is happening in the health and wellness arena. We know there are thousands of such sites and if we have missed one of your favorites, please let us know so we can check it out! Send your ideas to

The Institute of Medicine
In response to a request from Congress for a prevention-oriented action plan to tackle the alarming rise in childhood obesity, the IOM Committee on Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth has developed a comprehensive national strategy that recommends specific actions for families, schools, industry, communities and government. Their findings and recommendations are described in the report Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance which is a broad-based examination of the nature, extent and consequences of obesity in U.S. children and youth, including the social, environmental and dietary factors responsible for its increased prevalence.

The Local Government Commission
The Local Government Commission (LGC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization that provides inspiration, technical assistance and networking to local elected officials and other dedicated community leaders who are working to create healthy, walkable and resource-efficient communities. Their members are local elected officials, city and county staff, planners, architects and community leaders. Their new initiative, Leadership for Healthy Communities, seeks to support government leaders create policies that reduce childhood obesity by promoting active living, healthy eating and access to healthy foods. Their Healthy Transportation Network supports local elected officials and city managers in California with creating more walkable and bike-friendly communities. LGC provides both fact sheets and printable reports.

Active Living Network 
This site is a gateway to tools and resources for promoting active living and healthy community design. You can browse by topic or region and they have a “storybank” where you can read what’s going on around the country. They recently developed an objective and practical checklist to help residents, community groups, local government officials and advocacy organizations determine whether their neighborhoods are activity friendly. The checklist rates communities on land use, presence of public recreational facilities, availability of public transportation and quality of the environment.

Active Living Research
A national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ALR contributes to the prevention of childhood obesity in low-income and high-risk racial/ethnic communities by supporting research to examine how environments and policies influence active living for children and their families. They host an incredible array of tools and resources (grant information, tools and measures, as well as a literature database that allows you to source the information). They also provide material from other research journals.

Center for Weight and Health, UC Berkeley
The Center conducts independent community and school based research on the prevention of childhood obesity and related conditions. They have tools and resources as well as grant information.

California Department of Public Health – California Obesity Prevention Initiative 
This website is designed to assist community activists, leaders and public health professionals in the fight against obesity. The site provides the latest guidelines, data and resources for combating this epidemic, including existing policies and how to incorporate healthy activity and eating policies in your community.

California Center for Physical Activity
The California Center for Physical Activity creates opportunities for everyday activity by connecting partners to active living resources and helping develop more walkable and bikeable communities. The Center works through strategic alliances with physical activity experts, local health departments, community-based organizations and like-minded public- and private-sector partners. Their Web site contains recommendations, policy briefs and links to other resources.

UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research is one of the nation’s leading health policy research centers and the premier source of health policy information for California. They have a number of research briefs, “Access to Safe Parks Helps Increase Physical Activity Among Teenagers” and “Teens Living in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Lack Access to Parks and Get Less Physical Activity,” which provides important data for community initiatives.

University of South Carolina – Arnold School of Public Health 
The Prevention Research Center (PRC) conducts research that benefits the public’s health and translates research into practice. They offer an electronic newsletter and a listserv for physical activity advocates. They have developed a recreation facility evaluation tool to identify and evaluate parks, playgrounds, sports fields, aquatic facilities/pools, and recreation centers. Each park and recreation center can be rated with respect to safety, condition and maintenance of the facility.

The California Center for Public Health Advocacy
The Center is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that raises awareness about critical public health issues and mobilizes communities to promote the establishment of effective state and local health policies. They analyze data and publicize public health information to educate state and local policy makers. They are launching the Healthy Eating Active Living Campaign for California to work with city officials to adopt local policies to improve nutrition and physical activity environments. The campaign conducts trainings and workshops and provides technical assistance to city officials.

The Strategic Alliance – Promoting Healthy Food and Activity Environments
The Alliance’s goal is to benefit the health and wellness of all California residents by promoting environmental solutions and institutional and government policies and practices that support healthy eating and activity. CPRS is a member of the Strategic Alliance. The ENACT tool is an incredible source information with policies, checklists and examples for after school, community and government settings.

Planning for Healthy Places
Planning for Healthy Places at Public Health Law & Policy works to engage public health advocates in the land-use decision-making process throughout California. They focus on tools to train advocates in the relationship between the built environment and public health, and provide technical assistance for creating and implementing land use policies that support healthier communities. A new publication, Create and Implement Healthy General Plans, is a wealth of information regarding planning.

The National Association of Counties 
A national database containing more than 100 profiles of model policies, programs and initiatives that counties nationwide enacted to prevent childhood obesity. The database is designed to help county officials promote healthy living by improving the health of their environments. Each individual profile includes a brief description of the practice, county demographics, contact information, funding sources and additional resources.