AJPM’s Childhood Obesity Challenge: A Grand Success
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
AJPMChildhood Obesity Challenge: A GrandSuccess
15 marked the end of the 3rd and final round of AJPM’s Childhood
Obesity Challenge. In the scientific publishing world,creative ideas
with the potential to transform health and health care but not yet
backed by volumes of data, are often dismissed. Consequently, at the
AJPM’s 2010 Strategic Planning Meeting it was agreed that the Journal
would strive to be a conduit of innovation for clinical practitioners
and policymakers. The following year the Childhood Obesity Challenge was
launched, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer
The Challenge was an online competition encouraging proposed
solutions to childhood obesity, not only from academia, but also from
sectors such as industry, small businesses, social entrepreneurs, and
media providers. In addition to receiving cash prizes for at least three
judge-selected entries in each round, the first-place submissions were
featured in the print and online editions of the AJPM.
"The concept of speeding promising information to both practitioners
and policymakers underpinned the competition; having that information
come from arenas outside the typical academic or government settings was
the icing on the cake,” said Jill Waalen, Deputy Editor of AJPM and the
Co-Principal Investigator on the project. And the response was very
gratifying. The Challenge website had a total of 239,355 page views and
67,671 site visits during the course of the three challenges.
The three rounds of competition received 141 entries. "With Round 1
of the Challenge, we had a broad focus and attempted to capture any type
of solution with the potential for the largest reach, " said Kevin
Patrick, AJPM’s Editor-in-Chief. Round 2 sought submissions aiming at
innovative policies, as well as strategies for getting those policies
adopted and applied to schools, institutions, municipalities, or other
organizations. Round 3 concentrated on interventions for children and
their families delivered in clinical settings, or involving partnerships
between clinics and communities.
A glance at the winning selections reveals the broad range and high caliber of innovative thinking.
Decision support tools included a caloric calculator
that presented energy balance at the population level on a daily basis.
The tool, by synthesizing the best existing evidence on approaches that
hold the promise, will make it easier for decision-makers in a broad
range of roles—policymakers, teachers, administrators, community
leaders, parents—to compare the relative impacts of making changes to
local, state, or federal policies. Another winning submission included
decision support tools in the electronic health record, such as alerts delivered to pediatric clinicians at annual patient visits.
Entries focusing on environmental factors included design guidelines for school architecture to provide optimal healthy eating spaces, and another offered a plan to transform popular neighborhood streets and avenues to boost children’s activity levels and consumption of healthy food.
A food education proposal
deployed a nationwide team of AmeriCorps service members in public
schools to directly focus on healthy eating, and two submissions
addressed afterschool settings. One initiative produced three guiding principles that
address nutrition and physical activity in out-of-school (OST)
environments, and encouraged the country’s leading OST organizations to
integrate the principles into their policies. A second winning idea
leveraged professional development training and technical assistance to achieve afterschool physical activity and nutrition programs and policy changes.
Exceptional proposals for local government action included a model ordinance
to help communities set a healthy baseline for retail outlets that sell
foods and beverages. Another described formal collaboration between a healthcare provider and a municipal community center to
offer patients the opportunity to learn cooking skills and get
exercise, neither of which was possible in the clinic setting. A
first-ever joint use agreement between the clinic and the city parks and
recreation department complemented healthy lifestyle interventions
provided by an interdisciplinary team during monthly patient and family
A healthcare team was also central to a project to provide group medical visits for obese and overweight Latino children.
During interactive sessions at health centers, a team consisting of a
doctor, a nutritionist, and a promotora (community health worker)
discuss nutrition, physical activity and stress with the children and
their families, and help them develop weight loss action plans.
To see details of these, and all other entries, visit the Challenge archives at: ajpmchallenge.calit2.net.