Florida Public Health Review


Publication Date

April 2009


Obesity is an enormous health problem facing America in the 21st century. Despite great efforts, health educators have made little progress in meeting the goals laid out in Healthy People 2010. A more contextual, community- based approach is necessary to change the physical and social environment in which people live, work and play. Studies show that residents of neighborhoods that lack pedestrian-friendly features and have high crime rates are less likely to be physically active, an important point for health educators to take into account when designing interventions. Whereas professional health educators have done little in this area, exemplary grassroots efforts like Safe Routes To School and Walking School Bus demonstrate the efficacy of such approaches. Leadership from health educators is needed, specifically in designing and implementing interventions that target the intersections of the built environment, crime and physical activity. The leadership theories of Daniel Goldman and John P. Kotter are especially useful when using coalition building and the Community Readiness Model as strategies for interventions.