A Cultural Model of International Public Health Practice: Evaluation Standards for Supplementary Feeding
This presentation will review standard practice for professional program evaluation, giving special attention to selected outcome measures and survey populations. It argues that international public health practice entails a near-exclusive focus on physical growth and development when evaluating supplementary feeding programs for mild-to-moderately malnourished children. Questioning whether the benefits typically measured are either the total or even the most important benefits to participants and their families, this presentation will outline the decision principle implicit in demonstrated data collection efforts. The practical implications of evaluation based on individual-level anthropometry will be discussed along with alternative forms of benefit, such as increased physical activity and the restoration of basal metabolic rate. It is suggested that the physical assessment of the target child in isolation underestimates program impact – first, by neglecting the range of potential benefits beyond individual anthropometry and second, by diluting subpopulation effects through aggregation. Ultimately, the intent is to emphasize how professional evaluation standards influence the types of questions that can be asked – and answered – with a public health approach.
Keywords: Cultural Context of Health, Food and Nutrition, Health Professionals, Globalization
Elizabeth Elliott Cooper
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology