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 optional health screenings show important improvements in middle school students’ self-reported health behaviors and physiologic measures. Key findings include:
Results to Date
Over 32,433 sixth graders in more than 50 schools in Michigan have participated in the program. Of these students, over 12,280 have been part of our research, including 2,800 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 2013-2014 school year show that students increased fruit, vegetable and milk consumption; decreased fried meat and chocolate consumption; decreased TV and video game screen time; and increased vigorous and moderate exercise.
- 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 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.
- A Middle School Intervention to Improve Health Behaviors and Reduce Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Published in American Journal of Medicine, Oct 2013
- High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in a Cohort of 6th-grade Children: Association with Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Lifestyle Behaviors. Published online in Pediatric Cardiology Oct 2013
- Recovery Heart Rate: An Indicator of Fitness Among Middle School Children. Published in Pediatric Cardiology Aug 2013
- 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.
PHS has presented five abstracts at national conferences in 2014. The abstracts include:
- Response to a School-based Health Intervention in High- and Low-Income Communities American Heart Association® - Epidemiology and prevention, nutrition, physical activity and metabolism 2014, March 18, San Francisco, CA (Poster)
- Inactive Screen Time Associated with Unhealthy Dietary consumption and Physiologic Characteristics: A Closer Look at Childhood Health Behaviors. American College of Cardiology 2014, March 30, Washington, DC (Oral)
- The Impact of Handheld devices on Healthy Lifestyles among School Age Children: A Report from Project Healthy Schools. American Heart Association® Quality of Care in Outcomes Research 2014, May, Baltimore, MD (Poster)
- Students’ Assessment of the Educational Component of Project Healthy Schools: A Middle-School Wellness Program. American Heart Association® Quality of Care in Outcomes Research 2014, May, Baltimore, MD (Poster)
- An Urban Garden Initiative: A Component of Project Healthy Schools. American Heart Association® Quality of Care in Outcomes Research 2014, May, Baltimore, MD (Poster)