Childhood obesity and health

We promote good nutrition, physical activity, and healthy lifestyles by developing and evaluating policies and programs designed to help children and the adults in their lives make healthier choices.

Bad habits are hard to unlearn. Children who grow up without support for healthy lifestyle options are at significantly increased risk for chronic diseases and other negative health consequences in adulthood. From depression, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease to orthopedic problems and high blood pressure, our children are vulnerable until effective interventions are in place. A preventive approach can provide the greatest return on investment and result in longer lasting effects.

ICF’s team of nationally and globally recognized health experts are helping identify effective prevention strategies by evaluating programs, regulations, and policies and sharing those findings to benefit other initiatives. Our work across the federal health space reflects decades of experience in collecting reliable data and using insights from our analyses to advance important public health missions. And our contributions to smoking cessation serve as a model for interventions that can effect positive behavioral change, even shift cultural norms.

ICF’s data-driven approach has already led to a better understanding of the nutritional, physical activity, and health behaviors of the nation’s youth and adults and the environments in which they live, work, and play. We will continue to identify and promote best practices to help tackle obesity comprehensively and systematically through evaluation of obesity prevention policies and programs, behavior surveillance, and creation of educational messages and materials.

Program & Policy Design, Support, and Evaluation

As efforts have intensified to control and prevent obesity through behavioral and environmental programs and policies, so have questions about which strategies are most effective. Through formative, process, and outcome-focused evaluations, ICF provides policy makers and practitioners with the evidence they need to chart strategic directions and to refine programs for curbing the obesity epidemic. Our research and evaluation studies are designed to fill a critical need for increasing the evidence base for tested solutions and guiding the design and implementation of effective programs and policies.

Surveys & Surveillance Studies

ICF has conducted some of the most-cited surveillance studies of children and adolescents. These studies provide information on the physical activity and fitness of children and adolescents, their health behaviors, and their nutritional intake. They have helped policy makers and program planners determine the magnitude of the obesity problem, identify populations at risk, plan and evaluate programs and interventions, detect changes in the epidemic, and stimulate new research.

Research & Measurement

The obesity epidemic has sparked new research and interventions to reverse and prevent obesity across the nation. In response to the growing need for valid and reliable measures to track changes in health, behavior, policies, and the environment for healthy eating and active living, ICF has engaged world-renowned experts to develop scientifically-based obesity prevention measures that span the socioecological continuum.

ICF helped develop the first set of community- based measures that local communities can use to plan and monitor environmental and policy changes for obesity prevention.

Health Communications & Social Marketing

For three decades, ICF has worked with clients to provide the public with trustworthy health information that is easy to access, understand, and use. Our work helps health officials and health care providers design and disseminate useful information related to healthy eating, active living, and the chronic diseases and other health problems that can result from obesity.