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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 5739025, 10 pages
Research Article

Obstacles and Enablers on the Way towards Integrated Physical Activity Policies for Childhood Obesity Prevention: An Exploration of Local Policy Officials’ Views

1Academic Collaborative Centre for Public Health Limburg, Regional Public Health Service, Geleen, Netherlands
2Department of Health Promotion, School of Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI), Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
3Scientific Center for Care and Welfare (TRANZO), Tilburg University, Tilburg, Netherlands
4Department of Health Promotion, School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism (NUTRIM), Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
5Department of Health Services Research, School of Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI), Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
6National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, Netherlands
7Department of Health Sciences and EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Received 28 March 2016; Accepted 19 July 2016

Academic Editor: Nana K. Anokye

Copyright © 2016 Anna-Marie Hendriks et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Limited physical activity (PA) is a risk factor for childhood obesity. In Netherlands, as in many other countries worldwide, local policy officials bear responsibility for integrated PA policies, involving both health and nonhealth domains. In practice, its development seems hampered. We explore which obstacles local policy officials perceive in their effort. Methods. Fifteen semistructured interviews were held with policy officials from health and nonhealth policy domains, working at strategic, tactic, and operational level, in three relatively large municipalities. Questions focused on exploring perceived barriers for integrated PA policies. The interviews were deductively coded by applying the Behavior Change Ball framework. Findings. Childhood obesity prevention appeared on the governmental agenda and all officials understood the multicausal nature. However, operational officials had not yet developed a tradition to develop integrated PA policies due to insufficient boundary-spanning skills and structural and cultural differences between the domains. Tactical level officials did not sufficiently support intersectoral collaboration and strategic level officials mainly focused on public-private partnerships. Conclusion. Developing integrated PA policies is a bottom-up innovation process that needs to be supported by governmental leaders through better guiding organizational processes leading to such policies. Operational level officials can assist in this by making progress in intersectoral collaboration visible.