While overall prevalence of obesity improved in Massachusetts public schools between 2009 and 2014, prevalence remained unchanged for children living in poor, rural, and smaller communities. This project will identify which programs and activities have been effective in reducing childhood obesity among the successful schools, and use the information to guide future interventions for those schools that were not. Specific aims of this study are to: 1) investigate the roles of school policies, healthy eating and physical education programs, and community social and built environments in the decline in obesity prevalence among Massachusetts public school students; 2) identify necessary and sufficient conditions for significantly reducing obesity prevalence in public schools; and 3) recommend approaches to accelerate the decline and reduce socioeconomic and geographic disparities in obesity prevalence in public schools. The research team will use a mixed methods approach to identify both necessary and sufficient school and community conditions for reducing obesity prevalence in public schools using a retro- and prospective cohort design. Researchers will analyze over 2.1 million body mass index (BMI) records from 338 school districts for public school students grades 1, 4, 7, and 10 between 2009 and 2017 and correlate them with school-level administrative data on healthy eating and physical education programs and community social and built environmental data from the same period. Analytic reports and district-specific recommendations will be shared with the Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Elementary and Secondary Education and all Massachusetts public schools.
Identifying Successful Childhood Obesity Interventions in Massachusetts Schools and Using Findings to Improve Programs at Schools Left Behind
Strong nutrition standards for school meals, consistent with evidence-based recommendations, position children for optimal health and wellbeing. Strong science supports the link between lowering sodium intake and better health. This new issue brief from Healthy Eating Research examines the recent history of sodium standards for school meals. It highlights current sodium intake … More
In the next year, an estimated 1 in 4 children will experience food insecurity (up from 1 in 6, pre-pandemic), disproportionately impacting children in low-income households and racial/ethnic minorities. To mediate loss of school meals during closures and reduce COVID-19 exposure, Congress authorized the USDA to permit local education authorities … More
Stories of Success: A Qualitative Examination of Contributors to Excellence in School Drinking Water Access
Drinking water instead of beverages with added sugar can help prevent obesity and cavities and promote overall health. Children spend much of their day in school, where they have variable access to drinking water. In 2010, federal and state law required California public schools to provide free potable water to … More