Federal and state policies identify schools as a setting to prevent childhood obesity, but schools need better health promoting strategies. This study evaluates interim progress in schools receiving hands-on training from the Healthy Schools Program, the nation’s largest school-based program aimed at preventing childhood obesity. The four-year program targets schools with predominantly low-income, Black, or Latino students. The program is a resource to implement recent federal and state policies.
In 2010 these researchers assessed schools that enrolled in the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 school years. School representatives were asked to complete an inventory of eight content areas: (1) policy and systems; (2) school meals; (3) competitive foods and beverages; (4) health education (5) physical education; (6) physical activity outside of physical education; (7) before- and after-school programs; and (8) school employee wellness. Schools’ baseline inventory was compared by t-test with the most recent inventory available.
Schools made significant changes in all content areas, and effect sizes were moderate to large. Participating schools improved environmental policies and practices to prevent childhood obesity.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has supported the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program since it began in 2006 with just 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.