Best practice in obesity prevention has generally been defined in terms of ‘what’ needs to be done while neglecting ‘how’. A multifaceted definition of best practice, which combines available evidence on what actions to take, with an established process for interpreting this information in a specific community context, provides a more appropriate basis for defining the principles of best practice in community-based obesity prevention. Based on analysis of a range of literature, a preliminary set of principles was drafted and progressively revised through further analyses of published literature and a series of consultations. The framework for best practice principles comprises: community engagement, programme design and planning, evaluation, implementation and sustainability, and governance. Specific principles were formulated within this framework. While many principles were generic, distinctive features of obesity prevention were also covered. The engagement of end-users influenced the design of the formatting of the outputs, which represent three levels of knowledge transfer: detailed evidence summaries, guiding questions for programme planners and a briefer set of questions for simpler communication purposes. The best practice principles provide a valuable mechanism for the translation of existing evidence and experience into the decision-making processes for planning, implementing and evaluating the complex community-based interventions needed for successful obesity prevention.