Project Healthy Schools includes a research component designed to study the program’s effects on lifestyle, markers of cardiovascular risk, and obesity. Data from behavioral questionnaires and health screenings show important improvements in middle school students’ self-reported health behaviors and physiologic measures. Key findings include:
Results to Date
Over 18,500 sixth graders from 40 schools in Michigan have participated in the program. Of these students, over 6,800 have been part of our research. Research results demonstrate that this program has improved the health of the students it has reached.
- Students indicate, by standardized questionnaire, that they are changing their behaviors in a favorable way.
- 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.
The first graph below illustrates the long term effectiveness of the program as measured in a group of over almost 600 students in Ann Arbor for 3 years following the intervention.
This graph compares the baseline and follow-up measurements from PHS for students from Ann Arbor, an affluent community, with those from Ypsilanti students, a more diverse, lower socioeconomic community. The Ypsilanti students made greater physiological improvements from baseline than the Ann Arbor students.
Presentations and Publications
Below is a list of PHS articles published in peer reviewed journals since 2012.
- Gender differences in Physiologic Markers and Health Behaviors Associated with Childhood Obesity. Published in Pediatrics, August 2013
- Sustainable Practices within a School-Based Intervention: A Report from Project Healthy Schools. Published in World Medical and Health Policy, December 2012.
- School Intervention Incorporates Farm to School Programs to Highlight Healthy Eating: A Report form Project Healthy Schools. Published in Childhood Obesity, December 2012.
- A Public School District's Vending Machine Policy and Changes over a Four-Year Period: Implementation of a National Wellness Policy. Public Health (2012), doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2012.01.007.
- Understanding Childhood Obesity in America: Linkages between Household Income, Community Resources, and Children's Behaviors. Published in American Heart Journal 2012 ;163:836-43.
As of September, PHS has presented four abstracts at national conferences so far in 2013. The abstracts include:
- Behavioral Factors as Predictors of Poor Cardiovascular Health in Middle-School Students: Results from Project Healthy Schools (PHS), American Heart Association Quality of Care in Outcomes Research Conference, Baltimore MD, May 15-17th
- Breakfast Habits and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Middle School Children, American Heart Association Quality of Care in Outcomes Research Conference, Baltimore MD, May 15-17th
- Level of Participation in Health Screenings as a Predictor of Behavioral Outcomes in Middle School Children: A Report from Project Healthy Schools, American Heart Association Quality of Care in Outcomes Research Conference, Baltimore MD, May 15-17th
- Prevalence of High Health-Habit Achievers Among Middle School Children and Associated Measures of Cardiovascular Health: A Report from Project Healthy Schools, American Heart Association Quality of Care in Outcomes Research Conference, Baltimore MD, May 15-17th