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Applying an ecological approach to childhood obesity prevention requires a new way of thinking and working for many community-based practitioners who are used to focusing on individual behaviour change. The present study investigated individual and organizational characteristics associated with the application of an ecological approach by practitioners 6 months post-training.
Individual and organizational characteristics and outcomes of a 6-week online training course were assessed at pre-course, post-course and 6-month follow-up. The application of an ecological approach was measured by three outcomes (application of course content, implementation of an action plan and trying a different approach) and analysed using a generalized estimating equation model with a binomial distribution and logit link and linear mixed models.
An online course for participants in the USA and abroad.
Public health nutrition and youth development educators and their community partners, and other community practitioners, who completed the course and all three surveys (n 240).
One individual characteristic (networking utility) and three organizational characteristics (ecological approach within job scope, funding, course content applied to work) were positively and significantly associated with the application of an ecological approach (P<0·05). Individual characteristics that were negatively and significantly associated with the application of an ecological approach were being a registered dietitian and having ≥16 years of work experience (P<0·05).
Training of community practitioners and the scope and funding of their positions should explicitly emphasize the usefulness or utility of networking and the use of an ecological approach for preventing childhood obesity.
To evaluate the implementation of a controlled, 6-week, environmental and educational intervention to improve dietary intake and body composition, and to study the association of implementation fidelity with diet and body composition outcomes.
A process evaluation documented participation, dose of nutrition education delivered, participant satisfaction, fidelity and completeness of the food environment intervention implementation, and context through observations and interviews with staff and residents. Intervention sites were scored and categorized as high or low participation and implementation and compared on essential elements of the food environment and on diet and body composition outcomes.
Six urban residential drug-treatment facilities in Upstate New York.
Fifty-five primarily black and white men in residential drug-treatment programmes.
Participants were exposed to 94 % and 69 % of the educational and environmental elements, respectively. High implementation sites were significantly more likely to provide water and 100 % juice, offer fruit or vegetable salad, offer choices of fruits and vegetables, and limit fried foods. Mixed-model analysis of covariance revealed that participants in the high participation and implementation sites reported greater reductions in total energy, percentage of energy from sweets, daily servings of fats, oils and sweets, and BMI over the intervention period. Participants in low participation and implementation sites reported greater reductions in percentage of energy from fat. Differential implementation of environmental elements limited the intervention impact.
These findings document the contribution of changes in eating environments to facilitate dietary behaviour change in community residential substance-abuse settings.
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