Petersburg, Virginia has an adult obesity prevalence of 41.7% (2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System). Social determinants of health including racial distribution, low income/poverty, food insecurity, and poor access to medical care along with poor eating and physical activity behaviors likely contribute to the relatively prevalence of obesity and related diseases such as diabetes. The Southeast District Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), Crater Health District (CHD) of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Crater Planning District Commission all have offices in Petersburg.
The proposed project will foster efficient and sustainable use of resources to provide evidence and practice-based programs in the community setting to reduce obesity. Hiring a Petersburg City VCE Agent – Health Educator and a CHD Health Educator will provide increased obesity prevention and reduction programming and will facilitate improved collaboration and partnership among community agencies and organizations whose missions address healthy lifestyles and obesity prevention. Technical and direct assistance for program activities and evaluation will be provided by VCE Specialists and Family Nutrition Program staff along with students from the two Virginia land-grant universities. A project manager will be housed by Extension at Virginia State University, a historically black landgrant university.
The Virginia Tech Center for Public Health Practice and Research (CPHPR) will provide overall project leadership, coordination, and technical assistance for needs assessment, planning, implementation and program evaluation. CPHPR is currently serving as evaluator for the Virginia CDC DP-14-1422 Closing the Gap Initiative and for one of the five participating local health districts. This will allow unique perspective to ensure that project strategies, interventions, activities and evaluation align with 1422 performance measures.
A community participatory model will guide the project. The Petersburg VCE and CHD Health Educators will lead these initiatives with support from the Project Director, Project Assistant Director, Project Manager, Petersburg Extension Program Associate, VCE Specialists and Family Nutrition Program staff. The Petersburg Wellness Consortium will continue to serve as the Community Action Network. County extension and health department staff will directly engage the community to identify the needs of residents and the most culturally appropriate strategies to address them. Partnerships and activities developed and strengthened through the Virginia CDC DP-14-1422 Closing the Gap Initiative will provide a base for these efforts.
Anticipated short-term outcomes include: 1) demonstrated progress on activities to increase access to healthier foods; and 2) demonstrated progress on activities to connect safe and accessible places for physical activity. Anticipated intermediate outcomes include: 1) increased access to places that provide healthier foods; and 2) increased access to safe and accessible places for physical activity. Anticipated long-term outcomes include: 1) increased purchasing of healthier foods; and 2) Increased physical activity with an emphasis on walking. All partners will engage in process and outcome evaluation aligned with key CDC performance measures with technical and direct assistance from CPHPR.