The Washington State Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan uses policy and environmental approaches to turn the tide of obesity, a leading cause of chronic diseases in our state. In order for an activity or program to be considered a “best practice,” scientific evidence must document effectiveness.
With a goal of creating a healthier environment, better quality of life, and less chronic disease, many scientists try to understand what affects healthy (or unhealthy) eating and physical activity.
New theories and evidence about ways to improve access to healthy foods and physical activity opportunities often change the approach a program takes. These new theories and evidence contribute to best practices.
Programs that rely on such strategies and practices are also frequently referred to as model, evidence-based, science-based, and/or "blueprint" programs. Best practices are guides to develop, implement and maintain an intervention or program.
Examples of Washington's best practices for policy and environmental approaches to nutrition and physical activity have been documented online.
Definitions of "environmental change" and "policy change"
Environmental change: Obesity can be prevented if people would eat less and move more. However, often environmental factors prevent access to healthy foods and ways to be physically active. The environment where we work, for example, might not have healthy choices in vending machines. The environment where we live might have busy streets and no sidewalks, making it difficult to walk.
Policy change: Policies at the state, regional and local levels need to be made or revised so that healthy changes will last. An example of a policy change might be a school district no longer allowing students to purchase non-diet soda in school.