Criteria Help Schools Evaluate Interventions for Preventing and Reducing Childhood Obesity

From January to July 2004, Action for Healthy Kids worked with experts in education, health, physical education and nutrition to test and apply a set of evaluation criteria for the best school-based interventions that address childhood obesity.

Action for Healthy Kids, formed in response to the Surgeon General's Call to Action, is a national-state effort with 51 state teams working at the grassroots level to improve nutrition and physical activity levels in schools.

Key Findings

  • Project staff reported the following findings, which are based on a literature review, to RJWF:

    • The use of the term "best practices" varies considerably, and evaluators of school-based approaches often use inconsistent standards.
    • Researchers did not find standard criteria to evaluate methods or to serve as guidelines for creating innovations that conform to "best practices" in school nutrition and physical activity.
    • Evaluations of methods and approaches often overlook the needs and priorities of those who will adopt and implement them, and be held accountable for the results. To effectively evaluate school-based innovations, criteria must reflect the needs of all relevant stakeholders.

    Project staff published findings in a report entitled Criteria for Evaluating School-Based Approaches to Increasing Good Nutrition and Physical Activity. The report also lists a set of guidelines for determining the value of a particular policy and incentives for schools to adopt approaches for improving nutrition and increasing physical activity.