Technical Assistance Matters: Schools Need Support to Become Healthier

Evaluation of a National School-based Program to Address Childhood Obesity Identifies Intensive Technical Assistance as the Most Critical Factor for Success

In 2006, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation launched the Healthy Schools Program, the nation’s most extensive effort to prevent childhood obesity in schools. Today the program, which receives major funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, works with more than 15,000 schools across the nation and reaches more than 9 million students, as well as teachers and other school staff.

An evaluation of the program shows that a technical assistance framework has spurred schools to adopt policies and programs that will help address the childhood obesity epidemic. This brief highlights findings from two peer-reviewed research papers and an evaluation of the program that was conducted independently by RMC Research Corporation.

The evaluation found that schools that accessed and participated in more training and technical assistance made the most progress in implementing policies and programs that support healthy eating and regular physical activity among students. These findings have implications for school-based obesity prevention policies being considered and implemented nationwide.

Key Findings:

  • Schools can make changes aimed at creating a healthier environment regardless of the student population they serve.
  • Technical assistance matters, and it hastens the implementation of key school-based practices and policies to encourage regular physical activity and better nutrition over time.
  • When schools implement the Healthy Schools Program successfully, schools can positively impact students' weight and eating behaviors.
  • 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.