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
Farm-to-School Education Grants Reach Low-Income Children and Encourage Them to Learn About Fruits and Vegetables
For children from low-income families, school meals are a significant portion of daily caloric intake and hence an opportunity to address food insecurity. Many states have pursued legislation to institutionalize programs such as farm to school that aim to improve the quality of school meals and acceptance of healthy foods … More
Digital Food and Beverage Marketing Environments in a National Sample of Middle Schools: Implications for Policy and Practice
One promising approach to influence nutrition behavior is to limit food and beverage marketing to children. Children are a lucrative market and schools may be an effective setting in which to intervene. Studies have shown that marketing in schools is prevalent but little is known about digital marketing to students … More
This Brief summarizes select characteristics of state-level policies and programs to test for lead in school drinking water. It is based on a study from researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute. The full results of the study, … More