Advancing prevention by engaging the community in addressing social determinants

The issue How to use prevention to transform health outcomes

By engaging the community in addressing social determinants, prevention efforts can go deeper than the symptom and disease of obesity and truly address the root causes.

The insights Obesity is caused by a system that goes far deeper than individuals specific food choices or activity levels

It is a complex issue that consists of more than just an individual’s personal motivation to eat healthy food or exercise. If we are to solve obesity both in the short and the long term, we also need to look at the issue in the context of the struggles of the community, such as addiction, food insecurity, poverty and access to recreation.

The solution A community-based approach

Rise VT is integrated into the community fabric and responds to the community’s needs. To get a good feel for the context of a community, we begin with a Community Health Needs Assessment and look at data from the Youth Risk Behaviour Survey and the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, as well as other data sources from the Vermont Department of Health. We also work directly with community leaders to better understand the assets and needs of the community.

We reach people at work, in schools and in neighbourhoods, mostly by targeting them through our online media resources and the local papers. We also organise a Show Up Events Calendar to promote access to and opportunities for healthy activities in their communities. We use evidence-based scorecards to assess and inform plans for worksites, schools, classrooms, municipalities, and individuals to improve health outcomes for individuals across the community.

The result Additional years of data are needed

RiseVT’s Measurement Study involves the 1st, 3rd, and 5th graders in 100% of Franklin and Grand Isle Elementary Schools. The data show that between 2017 and 2019 there has been no statistically significant change in rates of obesity and overweight. With this promising start in the measurement study, additional years of data are needed before a trend can be reliably assessed.