Assessing the Capacity of State Physical Activity Programs—A Baseline Perspective

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Physical inactivity is one of the top 3 risk factors associated with an increased prevalence of obesity and other chronic diseases. The public health infrastructure positions state health departments to address physical inactivity. To examine preparedness, all 50 health departments were assessed, using the 5 benchmarks developed by CDC for physical activity and public health practice, on their capacity to administer physical activity programs.


States were scored on a 5-point scale for each benchmark. The top 2 high and low scores were combined to create 2 categories. Exact Chi-square analyses were performed.


States with CDC obesity funding scored higher on 4 benchmarks than states without. States with a state physical activity plan scored higher on all benchmarks than states without. States with a physical activity coalition scored higher on 2 benchmarks than states without.


At the time of the assessment, approximately 20% of state physical activity programs could have improved in the use of evidence-based strategies and planning and evaluation approaches. Furthermore, many programs seemed to have limited sustainability. The findings of this report serve as a baseline of the capacity and infrastructure of state health department physical activity programs.

Calise is a doctoral candidate in the Dept of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Brook-line, MA. Martin is an evaluation consultant with PEANUT, Farmington, ME.