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School-based HealthyMe Curricula on Health Behaviors and Weight

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Objective: Healthy dietary habits, physical activity, and positive mental health help prevent or manage excess weight among adolescents. HealthyMe curriculum modules are designed to improve those health behaviors among middle and high school students. Methods: The HealthyMe curriculum was implemented through health classes and health-promoting activities. We evaluated the changes in weight and key health behaviors from 23 schools across 8 states in the 2017-2018 academic year. We analyzed pre-post comparisons adjusting for lesson attendance, race/ethnicity, and age, and for clustering effects of schools. We also compared percentages of improved behaviors between sexes and between rural and non-rural schools. Results: Data were available from 1463 students (44% boys, age = 15.6 (1.3) years). Body mass index (BMI) metrics, in general, were significantly improved among students who were overweight or obese. Significant positive health behavior changes reported by both boys and girls were increasing breakfast and decreasing sugary beverage consumption. Girls significantly increased fruit and vegetable intakes and physical activities; boys significantly decreased dinner at home and physical activities. Students in rural schools tended to have a smaller number of significant changes and improved behaviors. Conclusions: The HealthyMe curriculum improved weight among students, who were overweight or obese, even though it focuses on health behaviors rather than directly addressing weight issues. The positive health behavior changes in conjunction with weight improvements may reflect synergy between the health promotion teaching and school policies.
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Keywords: HIGH SCHOOL; MENTAL HEALTH; MIDDLE SCHOOL; NUTRITION; PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2021

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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