A pilot study to evaluate the impact of a six-week after-school nutrition and physical activity program in elementary school children
Sitton, Erin Leigh
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The prevalence of childhood overweight in the United States continues to grow to epidemic levels. As a result, there is a great need for effective health promotion programs to help prevent childhood overweight. The after-school setting is a ready-made avenue for health promotion interventions that to date has been relatively unexplored. This study was a pilot test of the after-school nutrition and physical activity program, Tech Fun Days, at an elementary school in Lubbock, TX. Another local elementary school was included in the study as a comparison school and did not receive the intervention. Both schools were part of the YWCA’s after school program, Y-Care. The Tech Fun Days program was a six-week intervention that consisted of nutrition, snack, and physical activity components; it was implemented twice a week for one hour in place of the normal Y-Care programming. Texas Tech University students enrolled in the Field Work in Nutrition course implemented this program in the Fall of 2006. These university students received extensive training on how to effectively teach the scripted program lessons to the target population. Evaluation of the intervention consisted of intermediate survey measures (Student Survey, Family Survey, and Shelf Inventory) which were completed by parents and students at both the intervention and comparison schools, at pre- and post-intervention points. The internal consistency of the survey measures, which was determined by Cronbach’s Alpha, ranged from á = 0.42 to 0.69. Test-retest reliability was not significant for any of the survey measures. To obtain an objective measure of students’ physical activity, pedometers were worn by the students at both schools for one hour twice a week during the study period. Based on observation, the Tech Fun Days program was successfully implemented within the after-school setting. The university students who directly implemented the program were key contributors to the success of its implementation. The students at the intervention school who participated in the Tech Fun Days program were very receptive to the program and greatly enjoyed it. Based on the results from the analysis of the survey measures at pre- and post-intervention points, the Tech Fun Days program significantly impacted the students’ nutrition knowledge (p < .05) and students’ total day physical activity behavior (p<.001) at the intervention school. In addition to these results, this study also provided many new insights into the implementation of health promotion in the after-school setting.