Criteria Help Schools Evaluate Interventions for Preventing and Reducing Childhood Obesity

Establishing evaluation criteria for school-based interventions that address 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.