A Heavy Award

CDC recognizes CARES for innovative obesity prevention

Christopher Fulcher, Co-Director of the Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems (CARES) in the Division of Applied Social Sciences at CAFNR, received the Weight of the Nation 2012 Pioneering Innovation Award by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He received the award on behalf of his center’s work with Community Commons, a website that collects data on health and shares it with philanthropic groups, individuals, non-profits and governments.

Chris Fulcher.

Five organizations were recognized May 8 at the CDC Weight of the Nation Conference in Washington, D.C.  The recipients were acknowledged for their innovative strategies to prevent and control obesity. With high rates of obesity in adults, CDC is encouraging organizations to take cutting-edge approaches to reverse this epidemic.

CARES partnered with Advancing the Movement and the Institute of People, Place and Possibility (IP3) to create Community Commons.   Community Commons collects national health and socio-economic data and distils it into interactive maps that can be easily accessed and used.  With such data, governments and other organizations can more easily spot trends, identify specific geographic problem areas, and measure the effectiveness of intervention programs.

Community Commons and CARES utilize geographic information systems, satellite imagery, environmental modeling and the Internet to compile, analyze and distribute the information.

A Community Commons map showing the percentage of adult obesity in Missouri counties.

Community Commons registered users have free access to over 7,000 GIS data layers that include state, county, zip code, tract and block datasets. It also shares data on hundreds of community initiatives working toward healthy communities.  Their website includes video narratives on “what’s working” and social media and peer learning forums where colleagues exploring similar interests and challenges can determine best practices.

Advancing the Movement is a network of communities, philanthropic organizations, governmental agencies, academic units and non-profit groups to collaborate on policy, systems and environmental changes for a healthier, more equitable and prosperous United States of America.

“We are excited about the impressive group of award recipients and the commitment each has made to innovative programs and policies that achieve measurable impact in preventing obesity,” said Dr. William Dietz, director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.  “In today’s world there is much focus on what individuals can do to improve their health, and while that is important, we must remember our nation’s health is also strongly affected by environmental changes that result from the collective efforts of all sectors of society.”