Healthy Schools Program: Evaluation Shows Significant Progress in First Four Years

Eighty percent of schools that accessed technical support made substantial strides toward creating healthier environments for students and staff.

An evaluation of the Healthy Schools Program published in the March 2012 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease shows that the program’s technical assistance framework has spurred schools to adopt policies and programs that will help address the childhood obesity epidemic. The evaluation also found that the more schools accessed and participated in training and technical assistance, the more progress they made in implementing policies and programs that support healthy eating and regular physical activity among students. The findings have implications for school-based obesity prevention policies being considered and implemented nationwide, especially the recently announced nutrition standards for school meals.

Key Findings:

  • Schools that serve students from lower-income families and students at high risk for obesity were just as likely, and in some cases, more likely to adopt health-promoting policies as schools that serve students from higher-income families.
  • Technical assistance matters and hastens the implementation of key school-based practices and policies to encourage regular physical activity and better nutrition, as well as the ability to continue to make changes over time.
  • Schools across the country have designed innovative and low-cost strategies for promoting healthy eating and regular physical activity, while maintaining their focus on academic achievement.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has supported the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program since 2006, when it began working with 231 schools in 13 states. The program now works with more than 14,000 schools across the nation reaching more than 9 million students, as well as teachers and other school staff.

UPDATE: The evaluation brief originally released in March was updated in October. The current version is available here.