Afterschool Program Participation, Youth Physical Fitness, and Overweight

The children who most need fitness-focused afterschool programs may not be participating in them.

This study linked administrative data on children in a San Francisco Bay Area community who participated in afterschool programs with measured weight and fitness data. All California students in grades 5, 7, and 9 take a physical fitness test. The afterschool programs were both fitness-oriented and other types (academic enrichment, arts, or leadership). Some 63 percent of the area’s students are Latino.

Lower-income and Latino students were less likely to participate in fitness-focused afterschool programs and more likely to be unfit, “indicating the confounding effects of disadvantage,” the authors write. There were no effects on students’ fitness or overweight status from either type of program.