A protocol for developing an evaluation framework for an academic and private-sector partnership to assess the impact of major food and beverage companies’ investments in community health in the United States
Public health leaders increasingly recognize the importance of multi-sector partnerships and systems approaches to address obesity. Public-private partnerships (PPP), which are joint ventures between government agencies and private sector entities, may help facilitate this process, but need to be delivered through comprehensive, transparent frameworks to maximize potential benefits and minimize potential risks for all partners. The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) propose to engage in a unique academic-private-sector research partnership to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the food and beverage industry’s investment in obesity and hunger prevention and reduction through community-level healthful eating and active living programs. The CUNY-HWCF academic-private partnership protocol described here incorporates best practices from the literature on PPP into the partnership’s design. The CUNY-HWCF partnership design demonstrates how established guidelines for partnership components will actively incorporate and promote the principles of successful PPPs identified in various research papers. These identified principles of successful PPP, including mutuality (a reciprocal relationship between entities), and equality among partners, recognition of partners’ unique strengths and roles, alignment of resources and expertise toward a common cause, and coordination and delegation of responsibilities, will be embedded throughout the design of governance, management, funding, intellectual property and accountability structures. The CUNY-HWCF partnership responds to the call for increased multi-sector work in obesity prevention and control. This framework aims to promote transparency and the shared benefits of complementary expertise while minimizing shared risks and conflicts of interest. This framework serves as a template for future academic-private research partnerships.