Online Program

Childhood obesity: A super+ challenge yielding significant results

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Donna Kephart, MHA, Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA
Christina Wilds, DrPH, MPH, MEd, CHES, Highmark Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA
Jennifer Kraschnewski, MD, MPH, Department of Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA
Jody McCullough, AA, Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA
Barbara Blatt, M.Ed., Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA
Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years and was responsible for $14.1 billion in direct medical costs in 2009. In an effort to address this rising epidemic, the Highmark Foundation's School Challenge Grant program provided $650,000 in grants to 13 Pennsylvania schools. Of the 13 schools, 7 had rates of obesity and overweight above the state average of 33% and 7 served low-income children, populations disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic. Schools were selected based on successful implementation of an initial School Challenge Grant and were awarded up to $50,000 to make effective and sustainable changes in the school environment through infrastructure (n=6) and non-infrastructure (n=11) interventions. With technical assistance provided by Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center, schools increased physical activity and nutrition education in multiple ways, including activity curriculum in physical education classes; purchasing heart rate monitors and mountain bikes; retrofitting unused building space into fitness centers; implementing physical-activity based after-school programming; and building an outdoor fitness trail. Schools enhanced nutrition choices through incorporation of nutrition education into classrooms; salad bars in elementary school buildings; and implementing nutrition-based after-school programming. These 13 schools have positively impacted the nutrition and physical activity habits of more than 7,880 students spanning grades K-12 with one school doubling the amount of minutes each student spent doing physical activity. Although further research is needed to identify the impact of school-based changes to address pediatric obesity, evidence shows that physically active, well-nourished students learn more and do better in school.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate in schools sustainable practices in the areas of nutrition and physical activity to promote lifelong healthy habits to combat the childhood obesity epidemic.

Keyword(s): Obesity, School Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Ms. Kephart joined Penn State College of Medicine in 1993 and has over 17 years of experience in clinical trials including behavioral intervention studies. Since 2009, she has served at the Executive Director of the PRO Wellness Center. The Center is well-recognized among school administrators, nurses and physical education teachers in the schools as a source for technical assistance related to evidence-based in physical activity and nutrition.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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