Our Research

Project Healthy Schools (PHS) includes a research component designed to study the program’s effects on lifestyle, markers of cardiovascular risk, and obesity. Data from behavioral questionnaires and optional health screenings show important improvements in middle school students’ self-reported health behaviors and physiologic measures. A presentation summarizing 10 years of PHS research is available here.

Results to Date

Over 51,000 sixth graders in 70 schools in Michigan have participated in the program. Of these students, over 19,500 have been part of our research, including 3,000 students who participated in optional health screenings. Research results demonstrate that this program has improved the health of the students it has reached.

  • 71% of students indicate, by standardized questionnaire, that they are changing their behaviors in a favorable way.
  • Behavioral highlights from post-program survey results from the 2014-2015 school year show that students increased fruit and vegetable consumption; decreased sweets and chocolate consumption; decreased TV and video game screen time; and increased vigorous, moderate and muscle-strengthening exercise and sports participation.
  • Physiologic screenings show improvements in measures such as serum cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglyceride levels, blood sugar, and measures of fitness.
  • Low/middle income communities’ children are at higher risk based on obesity rates and physiologic measures, but appear to benefit even more from the program.
  • Among all schools, children at highest risk, based on risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol, seem to get the most benefit.
  • Benefits appear to be sustained, not just after the five-month intervention, but also at the end of years one, two and three post-PHS.

These graphs demonstrate the sustained benefit of PHS in both the physiological (n=889) and behavioral (n=740) measures of Ann Arbor students over four years post-PHS intervention.

Physiological measurements over four years

Behavior measurements over four years

These graphs demonstrate the sustained improvement in cardiovascular risk factors post-PHS intervention in students from both Ann Arbor, an affluent community, and Ypsilanti, a more diverse, lower socioeconomic community.

Sustainability Ann Arbor

Sustainability Ypsilanti

Please contact us if you would like more information.

Presentations and Publications

Below is a list of PHS articles published in peer reviewed journals since 2012.

PHS has presented four abstracts at national conferences in 2016. The abstracts include:

  • Environmental Changes in School-based Health Intervention. Adolescent Health Initiative 2016 Conference on Adolescent Health/ April 19, Ypsilanti, MI (Poster) (Poster was also presented at the Michigan Annual Diabetes Symposium in Ann Arbor on 3.18.16 and the MOTION Coalition Meeting in Detroit on 6.24.16)..
  • Health Behaviors Predicts Cardiovascular Risk Profile in Middle-School Children. American College of Cardiology 2016 Scientific Sessions, Chicago, IL, April 2016. (Poster). This poster received the ACC's Best Poster Award, an award granted to the top three to five percent of submitted posters. (Poster was also presented at the Michigan Metabolomics and Obesity Center 10th Annual Symposium on 10.11.16).
  • School Lunch Associated with Increased Cardiovascular Risk among Middle-School Children. American Heart Association- Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2016 Scientific Sessions/ Phoenix, AZ (Poster). (Poster was also presented at the Michigan Annual Diabetes Symposium in Ann Arbor on 3.18.16 and the Michigan Metabolomics and Obesity Center 10th Annual Symposium on 10.11.16).
  • Influence of Parental Education on Nutritional and Lifestyle Choices of Project Healthy Schools Students. American Heart Association- Quality of Care and Outcomes Research 2016 Scientific Sessions/ Phoenix, AZ (Poster). (Poster was also presented at the Michigan Metabolomics and Obesity Center 10th Annual Symposium on 10.11.16).

Please contact us if you would like a complete list.