Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health

Prioritizing areas for action in the field of population-based prevention of childhood obesity

A set of tools for Member States to determine and identify priority areas for action

The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased substantially over the past three decades and is now considered as one of the most serious health challenges of the early 21st century.

While the need for preventive action is increasingly recognised, policy implementation often occurs in a non-systematic, ad hoc manner. The purpose of this document is to provide a set of tools for Member States to determine and identify priority areas for action in the field of population-based prevention of childhood obesity. The tools presented are intended to facilitate a prioritization process that is both systematic and locally relevant.

Three priority-setting approaches are described in this document: the WHO Stepwise framework for preventing chronic disease, the Modified Problem/Solution Tree (mPAST) process and the ANGELO (Analysis Grid for Elements Linked to Obesity) process. All three approaches follow four common steps which include:

  • Problem identification and needs analysis
  • Identification of potential solutions
  • Assessment and prioritization of potential solutions
  • Strategy development

While these priority-setting approaches all contain common elements, the contexts in which they are used, the processes they involve, and the technical analyses differ and selection of the most appropriate tool is dependent on the purpose, desired outcomes and criteria to be used for assessment, level of resources and data available.

The document stresses that regardless of the tool selected, due consideration must be given to local, regional or country-specific factors when analysing potential areas for action. Finally, the identification of key stakeholders and the outlining of their potential roles and responsibilities is critical for the prioritization process.

Priority-setting to create a set of recommended, promising policy interventions is an essential part of evidence-informed policy-making; however, it is only the beginning of the process. The recommendations need to be accepted by the community leaders or politicians from different sectors who make the decisions and this usually takes an advocacy effort. Once endorsed, the actions need to be funded and implemented requiring project or programme management skills through a multisectoral implementation process.

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