University of Wisconsin
School of Medicine and Public Health

Obesity Prevention Initiative (OPI)

Project Leadership

Vincent Cryns, MD

Collaboration Partners

  • Department of Family Medicine
  • Department of Population Health Sciences
  • Department of Pediatrics
  • Population Health Institute
  • School of Human Ecology
  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Marathon County
  • Menominee Nation
  • Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies
  • Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute
  • UW Extension-Cooperative Extension, Family Living Programs
  • Wisconsin Alliance of YMCAs
  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services-Chronic Disease Unit


  • Wisconsin Partnership Program

Project Goals

The Wisconsin Obesity Prevention Initiative (OPI) works to improve health by impacting childhood obesity through a multi-faceted approach including community-based participatory research, statewide outreach, surveillance and dissemination. By providing coalition support through community organizing and collective impact, multi-setting, comprehensive, community nutrition and physical activity strategies will be determined and research faculty will be able to test and potentially determine health improvements. Overall, the initiative will focus on specific aims to bring about population-level changes reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity, current and future healthcare costs, and future chronic disease mortality.

  • Aim 1: Infrastructure to support alignment of multi-sector partners through: defining priorities, building a statewide movement, and engaging community partners to disseminate and implement evidence-based obesity prevention strategies.
  • Aim 2: Implement a pilot/feasibility study using local, multi-level, comprehensive community interventions in two WI counties – Marathon and Menominee.
  • Aim 3: Develop a statewide, childhood obesity surveillance system, that tracks obesity and related health indicators.
  • Aim 4: Create outreach and community engagement communications that includes state and local level public messaging and dissemination of evidence-based solutions to obesity


OPI builds upon the principles of community engagement and collective impact.  Community engagement, known more broadly as community organizing, enhances community voice and encourages community member participation. Collective impact is a framework that builds a backbone infrastructure to: create a common agenda, align stakeholders’ activities, establish shared measures, and continuous communications and feedback loops for expediting large-scale community change. Both of these principles have been successfully tested and used in other fields. The novel aspect of our work is in combining them into one model, the Community Engaged Collective Impact Model (CECI) and utilizing this model for obesity prevention. We are testing the CECI model both statewide by the work of healthTIDE and at the local community level with the two pilot intervention communities, Marathon and Menominee counties.

To fully support the aims of the OPI, a research and outreach infrastructure consisting of unique cores was established. These cores include: