New Study Shows Combatting Childhood Obesity in Schools Is Working
According to a recently published study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal, Preventing Chronic Disease, schools can win the fight against childhood obesity. The study found that the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program is an important means of supporting schools in reducing students’ rates of obesity.
Effect of the Healthy Schools Program on Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in California Schools, 2006 – 2012, is the first peer-reviewed journal article published about the Healthy Schools Program’s impact on child obesity rates.
An analysis of 281 schools in California that participated in the Program from 2006-2012 concludes that the Program is “an effective model for addressing childhood obesity among engaged schools,” and that meaningful participation in the Program is linked to reductions in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among students in high-need schools.
Ten years ago, the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association founded the Alliance for a Healthier Generation with the goal of reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity, and this study confirms the organization is delivering on its mission and that healthy school environments are having an effect on student weight.
“It’s encouraging to see the proven positive impact of the Healthy Schools Program on childhood obesity. Over the past ten years, the Alliance involved all stakeholders ‒ schools, companies, communities, healthcare professionals and families. The combination of commitment and cooperation has made the difference,” said President Bill Clinton.
“This study is evidence of our 2005 dream realized. While we know we have much more work to do to reverse the tide of obesity, we’re showing signs of success through the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.
The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program, which was launched in 2006 with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides schools with a framework, assessment and action plan, as well as virtual and onsite training and technical assistance and access to national experts to help them create sustainable healthy change. While the study looked at schools in California, the Program serves more than 29,000 schools nationally, the majority of which are high-need ‒ 40% or more of a school’s students receive free or reduced price lunch.
The study demonstrates the power of providing high-quality training and technical assistance to help schools make policy and system changes that improve children’s access to healthy foods and physical activity. The more that schools engaged with the Healthy Schools Program, and the longer they engaged, the greater reductions they saw in student rates of obesity. For example, for each additional year of exposure to an Alliance national advisor, schools saw a nearly 2% decline in student rates of overweight and obesity.
“Healthy school environments are critical to ensuring that every child grows up at a healthy weight and to RWJF’s goal of building a nationwide Culture of Health,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This study reinforces the critical role that the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program can play in making a healthy school the norm and not the exception in the United States. We are proud of our commitment to initiate and expand the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program over the past decade, and we look forward to continued progress in our joint efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic.”
“We’re pleased the findings confirm that the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program is delivering on our mission: to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity,” said Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “Reaching more than 17 million students across the country and growing, we will continue to positively impact children’s health on a national scale.”
About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation empowers kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits. Through our Healthy Schools Program, we help to build healthier school environments for more than 17 million students by improving physical education, health education, child nutrition, and staff wellness policies and programs in more than 29,000 schools. Learn more and join the movement at healthiergeneration.org.
About the Clinton Foundation
The Clinton Foundation convenes businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for women and girls, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change. Because of our work, more than 29,000 American schools are providing kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood obesity; more than 85,000 farmers in Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania are benefiting from climate-smart agronomic training, higher yields, and increased market access; more than 33,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced annually across the United States; over 350,000 people have been impacted through market opportunities created by social enterprises in Latin America, the Caribbean, and South Asia; through the independent Clinton Health Access Initiative, 9.9 million people in more than 70 countries have access to CHAI-negotiated prices for HIV/AIDS medications; 75 million people are benefiting from disease prevention efforts and investments in the U.S.; and members of the Clinton Global Initiative community have made more than 3,200 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries. Learn more at www.clintonfoundation.org, on Facebook at Facebook.com/ClintonFoundation and on Twitter @ClintonFdn.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association (AHA) is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke—America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. The American Heart Association team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of the offices around the country.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. The Foundation strives to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.