Collaboration or contestation? A critical evaluation of current capacity building mechanisms in community-based obesity prevention programmes

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Geoff Middleton, Adam Brian Evans, Hannah Henderson, Donna Windard

In recent years large community-based obesity prevention programmes have been developed in a number of Western countries in an attempt to reduce the growing epidemic of obesity in children and adults. The construction of community-based programmes revolves around the concept of capacity building. Often described as the ‘invisible work’ in health promotion, capacity building first establishes what structural limitations exist to prevent adoption of healthier lifestyles in communities, with a view to empowering community members to establish healthy behaviours. Typically, programmes attempt to address the main determinants of obesity by deploying an array of interventions at community level. Programmes frequently involve multiple stakeholders; for example, in England, programmes often involve local cross-government departments and networks of organisations acting as partners through a multi-agency approach. The strength of health promotion initiatives relies on formed ‘coalitions’ or partnerships and the subsequent collaboration in the design, delivery and administration of the programme’s multiple components. Advantages of partnership are the pooling of resources, avoiding duplication and potentially understanding the social context more holistically given the engagement of stakeholders’ from different perspectives. Despite best intentions, these large community-based programmes are not without difficulties and recent literature exposes stakeholder concerns particularly in relation to the development, implementation and evaluation of such programmes (Middleton et al., 2014, Kleij et al., 2015). This includes leadership issues, competing agendas and priorities, the unwieldy nature of large multi-agency networks and the complexities around making a sustained impact. Those involved in the administration of community-based obesity prevention programmes should carefully consider the components which lead to facilitation of efficiency in the capacity building process discussed in this commentary.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCapacity Building : Planning, Programs and Prospects
EditorsDiane Brown
Number of pages12
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Publication date2016
Pages21-32
Chapter2
ISBN (Print)9781634839952
ISBN (Electronic)9781634839969
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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