Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What happened to the VERB program?

A report from the Institute of Medicine at the National Academies earlier this year sharply criticized the federal government for its failure to support a major social marketing campaign to encourage physical activity among "tweens" -- the age group just before teenage years.

According to the report -- Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up? -- the Center for Disease Control's VERB campaign had some early signs of success. Kids who were aware of the campaign had higher levels of physical activity. More definitive evaluations were ongoing.

Yet, federal support for the program was reduced in the early part of the current decade, even as concern about childhood nutrition and physical activity was increasing.
Federal funding for the campaign was $125 million in FY 2001, reduced to $68 million in FY 2002, $51 million in FY 2003, $36 million in FY 2004, and increased to $59 million in FY 2005. Over the 5-year period the VERB campaign, the average cost was $68 million/year.
Other reports indicated that the program was in danger of losing funding altogether, and I can't find recent funding statistics on the Internet. Here's a 2006 report from the Wall Street Journal.

In unusually severe language for a National Academies report, the authors wrote this year:
The termination of an adequately funded, well-designed, and effective program to increase physical activity and combat childhood obesity calls into question the commitment to obesity prevention within government and by multiple stakeholders who could have supported the continuity of the VERB campaign through diverse representation.
Do any of you know the rest of the story of the VERB campaign?

1 comment:

rebecca scritchfield said...

We discussed this in my grad school class "integrated marketing and communications" at Johns Hopkis University.

Basically, you have all the dirt. They cut funding for the program so they only had enough dough to do the initial run. It was a whole IMC campaign (website, tv ads, school program etc.)

bummer...

although, I think schools need to bump up their physical activity requirements to give kids time to be active at school. Its especially important in urban areas that can be unsafe at times and northern states.