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 41,000 sixth graders in more than 60 schools in Michigan have participated in the program. Of these students, over 15,680 have been part of our research, including 2,790 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.
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.
Presentations and Publications
Below is a list of PHS articles published in peer reviewed journals since 2012.
- Sustained Benefit over Four-Year Follow-Up of Michigan's Project Healthy Schools. Published in American Journal of Public Health, December 2015.
- A University Health System Partners with Community Schools to Focus on Health and Wellness. Published in American Journal of Medicine, August 2014.
- A Middle School Intervention to Improve Health Behaviors and Reduce Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Published in American Journal of Medicine, October 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 October 2013.
- Recovery Heart Rate: An Indicator of Fitness Among Middle School Children. Published in Pediatric Cardiology August 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 six abstracts at national conferences in 2015. The abstracts include:
- Fostering Program Sustainability through Diverse Partnerships. American Public Health Association's Annual Meeting and Exposition 2015, November 3, Chicago, IL (Oral).
- Project Healthy Schools: Building Partnerships to Inspire School Change. GL-SOPHE - Partnerships for Healthy Communities: Erasing the Boundaries 2015, October 2015, Mount Pleasant, MI (Oral).
- Trends in BMI Based on Socioeconomic Status: A Report from Project Healthy Schools. American Heart Association® - Quality of Care and Outcomes Research 2015 Scientific Sessions, May 1, Baltimore, MD (Poster). (Due to QCOR cancellation, poster was presented at the American Heart Association® Scientific Sessions in Orlando, FL on November 10.)
- School-based Intervention Leads to Sustained Benefit over Time: Four Year Follow-up Report from Project Healthy Schools. Adolescent Health Initiative 2015 Conference on Adolescent Health, April 24, Ypsilanti, MI (Poster).
- Pioneering School Wellness: Best Practices from Ten Years of Implementing Project Healthy Schools. Society for Public Health Education: Blazing a Trail for Health Education and Health Promotion 2015, April 23, Portland, OR (Oral).
- High Mobile Device Usage Associated with Sedentary Behaviors and Less Physical Activity in Sixth-Grade Students. American Heart Association® - Epidemiology and Preventions, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2015 Scientific Sessions, March 5, Baltimore, MD (Moderated Poster).