CHOICES Learning Collaborative Partnership Announces New Opportunity to Develop Effective Strategies to Prevent Childhood Obesity

The CHOICES Project at the Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health will be accepting applications beginning on August 1 for state and local health agencies to apply to participate in the CHOICES Learning Collaborative Partnership (LCP).

Over the past four years, the CHOICES team has fostered Learning Collaborative Partnerships with 15 state and local health agencies throughout the United States, with Philadelphia, Denver, San Antonio, Salt Lake County, Allegheny County, Detroit, and Houston taking part. The CHOICES LCP presents an opportunity for health agencies representing populations of 500,000 or more to receive funding, training, technical assistance, and locally tailored data to help decision-makers understand and use data on health and cost impact to identify best value for money strategies to prevent childhood obesity.

To date, the CHOICES Project has partnered with 15 state and local health agencies throughout the U.S. Learn more by visiting http://www.choicesproject.org/choices-map.

In 2016, the CHOICES research team modeled the health and cost impact of a proposed 1.5-cents-per- ounce excise tax on sugary drinks under consideration by the city council in Philadelphia. One month later, the Philadelphia City Council approved the proposed excise tax, with a substantial portion of the revenue dedicated to increased access to early childcare. Through participation in the CHOICES LCP, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health built on that focus and evaluated the health and cost impact if all licensed early childhood education (ECE) providers in the city implemented voluntary recommendations to eliminate sugary drinks and limit screen time among children in their care. This strategy is projected to both improve health in early childhood, as well as potentially save providers money. Participation in the CHOICES LCP informed best practice guidelines for early care providers that were ultimately approved by the Philadelphia Board of Health.

Denver Public Health partnered with CHOICES to examine the potential health and cost impacts of implementing modifications to electronic medical records systems to promote recognition and recommended management of obesity among children during well-child visits. While participating in the CHOICES LCP, Denver Public Health staff identified that their primary care and school clinics had the relevant EHR tools in place, easily leading to implementation of a low-cost strategy projected to improve children’s health. This work led to a partnership between Denver Public Health and Massachusetts General Hospital on a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grant proposal to implement this strategy, which was awarded in summer 2018.

The CHOICES LCP is an effective way for state and local health agencies to explore what strategies might be best to help kids grow up at a healthy weight, and may ultimately help inform implementation. For the upcoming RFP, up to four health agencies will be selected, comprising the fifth cohort of CHOICES LCPs. Interested agencies can join CHOICES’ FAQ webinar, which will take place on August 19 at 3:00pm ET. Applications are due on October 1, 2019, and the project year will start on December 1, 2019. Stay tuned to the news section of the CHOICES website for the release of the RFP and more information.