The ORSC is actively seeking public and private partners for the development and implementation of a Global Multilevel Platform to Address Childhood Obesity. The ORSC is engaging in dialogues with major professional and funding organizations to find ways to collaborate in generating long-term solutions to the childhood obesity epidemic. The following is a brief description of the Global Multilevel Platform.
Obesity is a growing epidemic around the world. Yet, prevention efforts to date have had difficulty in turning the tide. To a great extent, this result is due to the arduous task of changing the way we eat, move, and live. Indeed, obesity is both a biological and a social problem and must be considered as a function of these larger contexts. At the population level, its development stems from the combination of biological susceptibilities and socio-environmental changes that have shaped society and lifestyle today. These powerful biological and contextual forces often make eating and exercise beyond an individual’s rational control. Therefore, the solution to the obesity epidemic has to take into account all this complexity by understanding the biological, socio-cultural, environmental, and policy factors (and their interplay) which regulate behavior and by designing interventions that impact these multiple spheres collectively.
There is a critical need to find ways to operationalize this multilevel, or “systems,” thinking in research. In this regard, a global platform can be a powerful force to coalesce and mobilize actors from different sectors of society and to drive the thinking from theory into action (see Figure (PDF - 15 KB) for illustration of how a global platform could function in this respect). At the global level, such a platform encompasses three arms: Research on cross-level drivers of food and physical activity; translation of research into policy; and capacity building for both research and policy translation. There are feedback loops across these three realms. For example, the identification of policy domains that can be impacted can drive research questions, which in turn, generate the evidence necessary for such policy actions. Capacity building is critical to the establishment of a multilevel, systems science in complex public health problems such as childhood obesity. Capacity building drives both research and policy translation, and is enhanced, in turn, when both research and policy actions progress. Ultimately, all three arms are required to yield substantial and sustainable impact on childhood obesity and related health at the population level.
To leverage resources and coordinate a synergistic, multilevel, or systems approach to childhood obesity research by:
The NICHD intends to use a global multilevel platform for the following reasons:
Depending on the context and audience for the communication of the Global Multilevel Platform, different terms can be used to effectively frame the focal issue of the message. We encourage the partners in the Global Multilevel Platform to exercise flexibility in framing the childhood obesity issue while emphasizing the multilevel or systems framework needed to address the issue. Some examples of key terms are:
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