1. Calancie, Larissa PhD
  2. Fullerton, Karen MEd, RD
  3. Appel, Julia M. MS
  4. Korn, Ariella R. PhD, MPH
  5. Hennessy, Erin PhD, MPH
  6. Hovmand, Peter PhD
  7. Economos, Christina D. PhD


Objective: To describe our process of using group model building (GMB) with the Shape Up Under 5 Committee; measure the effects on Committee members; and describe the community-wide health messaging campaign that resulted from the process.


Design: Pilot study.


Setting: Somerville, Massachusetts.


Participants: Members of the Shape Up Under 5 Committee, a multisector group of professionals.


Intervention: Research team convened the Committee and facilitated GMB from October 2015 to June 2017.


Main Outcome Measures: Boundary objects produced during GMB activities; committee members' perspectives on early childhood obesity in their community; and Committee members' knowledge, engagement, and trust at the conclusion of each meeting.


Results: Working together using GMB activities and with support from the research team, the Committee created a community-wide campaign that provided evidence-based messages to reach an entire city that emphasized diversity and reaching immigrants and community members who spoke languages other than English. More than 80% of Committee members reported changes in their perspectives related to early childhood obesity at the conclusion of the pilot test. Six perspective shift themes emerged from interviews and open-ended survey items: exposure to new perspectives about challenges community members face; increased awareness of others working on similar issues; increased knowledge about early childhood obesity; seeing value in creating a space to work across sectors; appreciating complexity and linkages between early childhood obesity prevention and other community issues; and how participation in committee influences members' priorities in their own work. Knowledge of and engagement with early childhood obesity prevention varied at the conclusion of each meeting, as did increases in trust among Committee members.


Conclusion: Group model building is a promising approach to support multisector groups working to address early childhood obesity in their community. Meeting activities may have had differential impacts on members' knowledge of and engagement with early childhood obesity.