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Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3182893bbb
Original Articles

Addressing Rural Health Disparities Through Policy Change in the Stroke Belt

Jilcott Pitts, Stephanie B. PhD; Smith, Tosha W. MAR; Thayer, Linden Maya BS; Drobka, Sarah BS; Miller, Cassandra MPH, CHES; Keyserling, Thomas C. MD, MPH; Ammerman, Alice S. DrPH, RD

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Abstract

Context:

Obesity-prevention policies are needed, particularly in low-income rural areas of the southern United States, where obesity and chronic disease prevalence are high. In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the “Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention” (COCOMO), a set of 24 recommended community-level obesity-prevention strategies.

Objective:

A variety of stakeholders in Lenoir County, North Carolina, were surveyed and interviewed, ranking the winnability, defined as feasibility and acceptability, of each of the 24 COCOMO-recommended strategies based on local culture, infrastructure, funding, and community support.

Design:

Mixed-methods.

Setting:

This study was part of the Heart Healthy Lenoir project, a community-based project to reduce cardiovascular disease risk and disparities in risk in Lenoir County, North Carolina.

Participants:

COCOMO assessments were conducted with 19 Community Advisory Council members and in-depth interviews were conducted with 11 community stakeholders. Heart Healthy Lenoir lifestyle intervention participants (n = 366) completed surveys wherein they ranked their support for 7 obesity-prevention strategies (based on the COCOMO strategies).

Main Outcome Measures:

Ranking of obesity-prevention strategies.

Results:

Policies to improve physical activity opportunities were deemed the most winnable, whereas policies that would limit advertisement of unhealthy food and beverages were deemed the least winnable. The most winnable food-related strategy was improving mechanisms to procure food from local farms. Stakeholders perceived the public as unfavorably disposed toward government mandates, taxes, and incentives. Among Heart Healthy Lenoir participants, males indicated lower levels of support for COCOMO-related strategies than females, and African Americans indicated higher levels of support than white participants.

Conclusion:

The formative work presented here provides insight into the winnability of proposed obesity-prevention policy change strategies in Lenoir County, North Carolina.

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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