Community-based programs may address positive health behaviors and wellness for the individual child as well as
the entire family. Habits and attitudes toward health can be shaped through strengthening the relationships
within families as well as the community. This model of program design allows for two-way learning
between various individuals and groups within the community, which cultivates relationships and encourages
social cohesion. Community-based models also help facilitate culturally sensitive services, because they can be
tailored to the various needs of the communities served and organizations may choose to engage trusted community
Community-based organizations, including faith-based organizations and nonprofits, are able to impact health
behaviors in significant ways. Community organizations may:
The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends community-wide
campaigns as a strategy to increase physical activity, particularly those involving cross-sector
Examples of Community-Based Models
Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina is a
statewide effort designed to increase residents' opportunities for healthful eating and improved physical
activity. Materials are designed for a variety of settings, including communities, schools, and
businesses. The program offers several online guides and resources on how to implement obesity prevention
efforts in communities. Materials include guides on bringing fresh produce to settings, cooking, creating active
outdoor spaces, and establishing community coalitions.
La Leche League USA is a volunteer-organized and -led
international organization that provides free in-person meetings for breastfeeding
education, information, and support. Each community volunteer leader completes the training provided by
La Leche League, with all of the training material provided for a small fee. The leader receives support from La
Leche League for setting up meetings, marketing the meetings, and setting up social media platforms. La Leche
League has meetings in all 50 U.S. States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin
Islands. Meeting locations and times vary based on local need and the leaders' availability. Some
meetings serve multiple counties, whereas others serve individual communities. Some communities also offer
virtual meetings and online forums to accommodate participants who are unable to attend in-person meetings.
Let's Go! is an obesity prevention program that
engages the entire community to help foster environments that encourage healthy behaviors. Their resources
provide evidence-based health promotion strategies for community use within multiple settings, including schools,
care, healthcare practices, and workplaces, as well as for families to use in their homes. The program
primarily works in Maine and New Hampshire, but has partnerships across the U.S. focused on children from birth
to age 18.
4-H Healthy Habits
helps create action plans to improve the nutrition, physical activity, and safety of the communities they
support. The partnership with the communities enables teenagers to have leadership roles as program teachers and
mentors for younger children. These youth work to provide underserved or at-risk youth and their families with
education about healthy eating and physical activity. 4-H Healthy Habits assists communities across the nation
with culturally-relevant programs.
Healthy Monadnock began in 2007 with the Cheshire
Medical Center's challenge to Monadnock Region residents to become “the healthiest community in the
nation.” The initiative holistically promotes healthy lifestyles by addressing physical health (including
nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco use), mental well-being, emergency preparedness, healthcare access,
and social determinants of health including employment, income, and education. Healthy Monadnock engages all
community stakeholders, including schools seeking to advance policy, systems, and environment changes. The
program supports use of school champions to promote healthy lifestyles among students.
South Dakota's Child Safety Seat Distribution
Program provides child seats to eligible parents across the state based on financial need.
There is strong evidence that car seat distribution and education programs increase
car seat use and increase the correct use of car seats. Research also finds that child seat distribution
programs are transferable to and effective in tribal
Child bicycle helmet safety programs typically provide bicycle safety information for children
and parents, free or subsidized helmet distribution, and media campaigns. Evidence demonstrates these programs
to be effective
at increasing helmet use and reducing both fatal and non-fatal injuries – ultimately reducing healthcare
Carolina's Bicycle Helmet Initiative distributes helmets to various agencies in the state
and conducts bicycle safety events, particularly targeting underprivileged children. The program is funded by
proceeds from a specialty license plate available in the state. Programs may be school or community based,
however research suggests that community-based
interventions are especially effective.
Faithful Families Thriving Communities brings
together nutrition and health educators with lay workers to deliver health programs in faith settings. The
program uses direct peer education, policy and environmental supports, and community engagement to connect faith
communities with messages about long-term health.
Program Clearinghouse Examples
Considerations for Implementation
Community buy-in. Programs are much more likely to be successful if they obtain community
buy-in. Community buy-in may take a lot of time and effort to gain. If community members and partner
organizations do not
feel like the program is worth their time, they may fail to meet their commitments or fully engage.
Resources. Community-wide programs take time to coordinate and organize. Organizing a
community-based program requires well-trained staff with sufficient resources to carry out plans. Without enough
right resources, community-level interventions may not reach their intended audience or achieve the desired
behavior change. If the intervention involves creating or improving physical spaces, building and/or labor costs
can become expensive.
Resources to Learn More
Center for Breastfeeding
Conducts research and educates providers on breastfeeding and lactation management. Supports interdisciplinary
communication and care through courses, seminars, and self-study modules. Offers a comprehensive, evidence-based
online lactation counselor training course (LCTC) focused on clinical counseling and assessment skills for
in-person, home-based services.
Organization(s): Healthy Children Project, Inc.
Rural Communities to Prevent Childhood Obesity: A Toolkit
Describes a community development approach focused on supporting existing community coalitions in their efforts
to build and sustain physical environments to prevent childhood obesity in rural preschool aged children.
Author(s): Avila, B., Contreras, D., Lobb, J., et al.
Organization(s): Communities Preventing Childhood Obesity, Ohio State University College of Public Health
Developmental Screenings and Services in Rural Communities
Describes the importance of developmental screenings for children's health. Highlights a community coalition in
rural Nome, AK focused on raising awareness and increasing access to early childhood developmental
Organization(s): National Institute for Children's Health Quality
A Quasi-Experimental Study to Mobilize Rural
Low-Income Communities to Assess and Improve the Ecological Environment to Prevent Childhood Obesity
Examines the ability of low income, rural communities to support and incorporate community coaching as a method
to create and maintain an environment of healthy eating and physical activity for the prevention of childhood
Author(s): Peters, P., Gold, A., Abbott, A., et al.
Citation: BMC Public Health, 16, 376