Paula K. Peters

Paula K. Peters

Kansas State University, USA

Title: Mobilizing rural low-income communities to assess and improve the ecological environment to prevent childhood obesity


Paula K. Peters is Assistant Director, Family and Consumer Sciences, Kansas State Research and Extension, and Associate Professor, Human Nutrition, Manhattan, KS. She currently coordinates Kansas Family and Consumer Sciences Extension programs, directs Kansas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-ED), leads program development training for Extension educators, serves on the administrative teams for the KSU College of Human Ecology and Cooperative Extension, and is Principal Investigator on a five year project: “Mobilizing Rural Low-Income Communities to Assess and Improve the Ecological Environment to Prevent Childhood Obesity”. She has held elected office and is active in various professional associations including Kansas Nutrition Council, Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), Food and Nutrition Extension Educators Division, Weight Realities Division, and Epsilon Sigma Phi. During her tenure at Kansas State University, she has secured over $40M in competitive grants funded to the university showing her passionate orientation to youth, families, and their communities.


A seven-state multi-disciplinary integrated Research and Extension team implemented a community development intervention with a quasi-experimental design. The hypotheses: community coaching will enhance a community’s ability to address identified needs and will result in greater behavior changes in nutrition and physical activity among those caring for 4 year old children. The PROJECT GOAL: to mobilize capacity in communities to create and sustain an environment and culture of healthy eating and physical activity to prevent childhood obesity in low income, young children, living in rural communities. METHODS: The seven partnering states are: IN, KS, ND, OH, SD, and WI. Active Community Coalitions (14) from 7 Intervention and 7 Comparison communities plus 7 Community Coaches (Intervention communities only) completed community assessments prior to implementing an annually selected intervention impacting nutrition and physical activity. A Toolkit of evidence based/informed resources was drafted for their initial use. OBJECTIVES/RESULTS: Community Coalition Self-Assessments are completed annually, Toolkit of Resources was drafted for communities’ use, First round of community interventions have been implemented in six states with the seventh state planned for this year, Community Coaches are active with Intervention communities and professional development, Qualitative data collection is occurring via Reflections from students, PDs, and Community Coaches, “Best practices” are being recognized and retained. FUTURE STEPS: enhancement of the Socio-Ecological model of Health Behavior Change for Child Obesity Prevention and Toolkit of Resources, Effective community engagement and coaching are expected to positively impact success, Identified “Best Practices” will be promoted and shared.