Childhood Obesity


The Partnership for Obesity Planning and Sustainability Project

The DRPHC received funding from the National Institutes of Healths to conduct the Dan River Region POPS: Partnering for Obesity Planning and Sustainability (POPS) study. This study is a three year planning grant that uses a community-based participatory research approach (academic and community partners working together) to develop a childhood obesity treatment program in the Dan River Region (DRR).  The first 9-months of the project served as the planning and development phase for the program.  The project is currently in the program testing phase that will include three rounds of program implementation.  By the end of the 3 years, there will be a program that is evidence based, effective, and sustainable.


Community Advisory Board

POPS partners that make up the community advisory board include the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District, the Children’s Healthcare Center of Danville Regional Medical Center, Danville Parks and Recreation, the Danville Area Boy’s and Girl’s Club,  Morgan Barlow, an independent consultant and neutral meeting facilitator, other members of the DRPHC, along with investigators from Virginia Tech, including Drs. Zoellner and Hill of the DRPHC, and Drs. Estabrooks, You and Frisard (a complete listing of advisory board members may be found here).  The POPS grant allows for shared control over all phases of the research process, as well as promotion of equitable partnership and collaboration.   The members of the advisory board participate in collaborative discussion to design and implement a childhood obesity intervention.  To learn more about advisory board meeting discussions you can review our meeting minutes.

To find out when the next POPS CAB meeting is scheduled, check the event calendar here.

ichoose launch event exercise

iChoose Program

The iChoose program is the childhood obesity intervention developed by the advisory board.  It is an adaptation of the Bright Bodies program.  The main goal of iChoose is to teach new ideas for helping families to eat healthy foods, be more active, and be a healthy weight.   As part of the project families come to 6 classes that focus on nutrition education, goal setting, and physical activity.  Children also attend a physical activity group every Tuesday night and alternating Saturday mornings.  Each child also gets an iCHOOSE newsletter every two weeks and parents get support calls to reinforce the information learned in the classes and encourage progress towards goals. The whole program is 3 months long and is located at the Danville City Auditorium.  Currently the advisory board is working on recruiting eligible participants for the third round of program implementation.



If you are interested in participating or want more information about the project please contact Dr. Jennie Hill at or
Dr. Jamie Zoellner at




Grant Abstract

The Dan River Region (DRR) is a federally designated medically under-served area/population with high rates of obesity. In response to 3 comprehensive community needs assessments The Dan River Partnership for a Healthy Community (DRPHC) was established in 2010 ‘to foster community partnership to combat obesity in the Dan River Region through healthy lifestyle initiatives’ (DRPHC mission statement).  To date the DRPHC (1) tested a successful adult weight control intervention, (2) initiated youth-focus community garden and instant recess initiatives, and (3) continues to complete a comprehensive audit of the food and physical activity environment across the DRR. This RFA provided an opportunity to address an additional and complimentary area of need for the DRPHC—childhood obesity. A newly formed subcommittee and community advisory board (CAB) of the DRPHC, Partnering for Obesity Planning and Sustainability (POPS), met in preparation of this proposal and discussed the need to engage systems where high need families received services and could participate in childhood obesity treatment. The POPS-CAB came to consensus that using a systems-based approach, within the existing CBPR partnership would allow for the development of a contextually relevant intervention with the potential for long-term sustainability. Systems-based approaches include, but also move beyond, a focus on initiative effectiveness and address broader contextual issues such as initiative adoption, implementation, and maintenance across settings and delivery staff as well as reach and maintenance of effects at the individual level. The general goal of this proposal is to engage multiple systems through the DRPHC POPS-CAB and design and test prototype childhood obesity interventions.  The current membership of the POPS-CAB include Danville Pittsylvania Health District, Children’s Healthcare Center, Danville Parks Recreation & Tourism, and Boys & Girls Club, along with an interdisciplinary team of academic investigators. Our first aim is to assess community capacity to develop, implement, and sustain a childhood obesity reduction initiative in the DRR. To accomplish this aim a concurrent mixed-method study design will be used and guided dimensions of community capacity and organizational level dimensions of the RE-AIM framework (i.e., adoption, implementation, and maintenance). The second aim is to determine the potential reach, effectiveness, feasibility and cost of the newly developed interventions. Three stages of iterative intervention testing/formative feedback loops in a public health and healthcare system will be used to achieve this aim. The partnership members will meet in an ongoing basis to discuss the qualitative & quantitative results and make adaptations to improve the strategies. Indicators of success include reduced child BMI z-scores, the engagement of multiple systems, and regional capacity to evaluate research evidence and integrate this evidence into sustainable practices. The end goal is a childhood obesity intervention that is ready for large scale testing across these systems in the DRR.