In spite of greater awareness of the need for action to reduce obesity, the evidence on sustainable community approaches to prevent childhood and adolescent obesity is surprisingly sparse. This paper describes the design and methodological components of the Sentinel Site for Obesity Prevention, a demonstration site in the Barwon-South West region of Victoria, Australia, that aims to build the programs, skills and evidence necessary to attenuate and eventually reverse the obesity epidemic in children and adolescents. The Sentinel Site for Obesity Prevention is based on a partnership between the region’s university (Deakin University) and its health, education and local government agencies. The three basic foundations of the Sentinel building community capacity; and undertaking program evaluations and population monitoring. Three intervention projects have been supported that cover different age groups (preschool: 2–5 years, primary school: 5–12 years, secondary school: 13–17 years), but that have many characteristics in common including: community participation and ownership of the project; an intervention duration of at least 3 years; and full evaluations with impact (behaviours) and outcome measures (anthropometry) compared with regionally representative comparison populations. We recommend the Sentinel Site approach to others for successfully building evidence for childhood obesity prevention and stimulating action on reducing the epidemic.
Health Promotion International Vol. 23, Issue 4, p. 328-336