Preventing childhood obesity in Latin America: linking evidence to policy and practice

Preventing childhood obesity in Latin America: Linking evidence to policy and practice

Ricardo Uauy

Instituto de Nutricion Universidad de Chile (INTA), Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile

Human resources are a critical factor affecting success or failure in implementation of programs. Widening gap between academic programs in developing and industrialized countries in terms of quality and capacity to innovate. Need to enhance opportunities for advanced training for scientists in developing countries. Knowledge and research skills required to advance an obesity prevention and control strategy for the LA region include: 1.Applied research and communication skills: statistics and epidemiology, survey and field study design, data handling, analysis, and interpretation; assess community needs. Monitor and evaluate existing programs related to health and nutrition. Consider qualitative and quantitative methods. Ability to write and speak persuasively, identify critical audience(s) and communicate ideas at the appropriate level. Advocate for a point of view considering other(s) views. Train and work effectively as a group, lead by example. 2.Program management and administration: as relevant to service delivery, work in harmony and jointly with NGOs, local government agencies, and international agencies. Administer and manage resources as well as ability to introduce and manage change 3. Goals for short term learning: Leadership development, Policy formulation, interpretation of science and report writing, Advocacy and negotiation, Program management monitoring and evaluation, data collection, processing, and analysis, Communication for behavioral change, Resource generation and mobilization 4. Program management and implementation: relevant to service delivery, NGOs, government agencies, international agencies, personnel management and facilitating change. Consider basic concepts of health/nutrition science: human nutrition, physiology of energy balance and malnutrition in all its forms; availability of foods and dietary composition. Assessment of Physical activity and nutritional status in community settings. Program design processes, including planning, budgeting, implementation, operations, and how to select policy interventions from a range of possible options. Knowledge and skills (case study of successful and failed experience; techniques for facilitate and conduct situation analyses to understand the underlying economic and social conditions as related to nutrition and food security. Personal development and skills needed to implement these actions requires: leadership, dedication to work in public nutrition in cross-cultural settings, entrepreneurial spirit. Clear focus must be to consider application of training to health/nutrition problems in the field under real life settings. Thus formal learning must be complemented with field experience “learning by doing”.