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Changes in School Health Program Improve Middle School Students' Behaviors

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Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of environmental activities in a school-based health program among 6th grade students (N = 2315). Methods: Students enrolled in Project Healthy Schools, a school-based health program designed to reduce childhood obesity and improve cardiovascular health, completed a health questionnaire on recent lifestyle choices including diet, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors. Baseline and follow-up data were compared between students who received educational lessons and students who received educational lessons and additional activities in the schools' environment. We calculated descriptive and one-way ANOVA statistics. Results: Students at schools with educational lessons and environmental activities reported more fruit intake (p = .046), fewer sugary beverages (p = .054) and servings of fatty/sugary foods (p = .002), and more moderate physical activity (p = .009) compared to students with educational lessons only. No beneficial effect was observed in decreasing TV viewing time. Mobile device time increased in both groups. Conclusions: The present study suggests school-based health programs combining educational lessons and additional environmental activities may improve diet and physical activity in middle school children to a greater degree than educational lessons alone.
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Keywords: ADOLESCENT HEALTH; CARDIOVASCULAR RISK FACTORS; ENVIRONMENT; HEALTH BEHAVIORS; SCHOOL HEALTH

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Visiting Research Scholar and PhD Candidate, Vrije University, Amsterdam, Netherlands;, Email: [email protected] 2: Research Technician Intermediate, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI 3: Research Assistant, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI 4: Nurse Practitioner, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI 5: Wellness Manager, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI 6: Albion Walter Hewlett Professor of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI 7: Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI

Publication date: 01 September 2016

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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