Harvard University PRC collaborates with the YMCA to increase children’s physical activity and provide healthier food options in afterschool programs.
An encyclopedia excerpt describes the history, partnerships, and contributions of the PRC Program.
Tulane University PRC recognized for coalition that conducts activities to improve the conditions for pedestrians in New Orleans, Louisiana.
University of Minnesota researcher featured in scientific journal for contributions to adolescent health research.
Changes in YMCA Afterschool Programs Increase Children's Physical Activity and Healthy Food OptionsHarvard University: Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity
Addresses CDC Winnable Battle: Nutrition, physical activity, and obesity
YMCA-Harvard Afterschool Food and Fitness Project
- YMCA learning collaboratives, an approach to bringing about organizational change, were found to be promising for translating obesity prevention science into practices for use in YMCA afterschool programs
- Learning collaboratives helped staff develop the skills needed to work toward creating a healthy afterschool environment by achieving simple health-related program standards
- Before and after studies of selected afterschool programs showed significant improvements in the healthfulness of snacks served and the physical activity levels of children in these programs
www.foodandfun.org, includes tip sheets, assessment guides, recipe packets, and snack planning tools to help staff make inexpensive, effective program changes.
The program was part of a large-scale initiative to improve border health. The Initiative included components targeting clinicians, schools, persons with diabetes and their families, and the community; Pasos Adelante was the community component. The program was developed in partnership with the Mariposa Community Health Center in Nogales, Arizona, the Regional Center for Border Health, Inc., the Western Arizona Area Health Education Center, and faculty and staff at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
- Menus of snacks and beverages served at 7 YMCA afterschool programs located in 5 states were collected over a 14-month period.6 The quality of snacks and beverages were analyzed at baseline (fall 2005), midway (spring 2006), and post-intervention (fall 2006). Compared to baseline values, at post- intervention, weekly servings of fruits and vegetables significantly increased (1.3 to 3.9, p=0.02), while significant decreases were seen in weekly servings of desserts (1.3 to 0.5, p=0.05), foods with added sugars (3.9 to 2.4, p=0.03), and foods with trans fats (2.6 to 0.7, p=0.01). Pre-intervention, one site served sugar-sweetened beverages; post- intervention, no sites did—instead, all sites served water. At baseline, each site had achieved at least 1 of the 5 healthy eating standards; post-intervention all sites had achieved at least 2 of the standards. Although not statistically significant, average calories in snacks and beverages offered decreased from 300.3 kcal before the intervention to 266.9 kcal after.
- An analysis of the price and healthfulness of snacks served in a sample of 32 YMCA afterschool programs in 4 U.S. metropolitan areas found that healthful snacks achieving the 5 healthy eating standards were 50% more expensive than less-healthful snacks.7 Fruits and canned or frozen vegetables contributed to significantly higher snack price. Analyses showed that replacing these items with low-priced fresh vegetables and replacing refined grains with whole grains would increase the healthfulness of snacks without causing increases in price. Analyses also identified a range of repeatedly served, inexpensive, healthful snacks that were served as part of regular, ongoing afterschool programs. Thus, healthful foods and snack combinations could be served at or below the price of less-healthful snacks. In particular, substituting tap water for 100% juice produced savings that could be used toward the purchase of healthful foods, such as apples.
- The physical activity intervention consisted of using the learning collaborative process and the Food & Fun After School curriculum.8 The intervention was implemented in 16 afterschool programs in four U.S. metropolitan areas. Sixteen matched control afterschool programs were selected from the same metropolitan areas for comparison. The control programs were those in place at the time the control was selected; the amount and level of physical activity of children in these programs varied. Children's physical activity was measured by accelerometers worn at baseline (fall 2006) and follow up (spring 2007). Children at intervention sites showed greater increases in minutes of combined moderate and vigorous physical activity (10.5 minutes more per day, p=0.017) than children in control sites. These differences translated into an average additional energy expenditure of 25 kcal a day for a child in an intervention setting.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data and Statistics: Obesity Rates Among All Children in the United States. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/data.html. Accessed June 22, 2012 .
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and Obesity: Basics About Childhood Obesity. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/basics.html. Accessed January 29, 2012.
- Wang YC, Gortmaker SL, Sobol AM, Kuntz KM. Estimating the energy gap among US children: a counterfactual approach. Pediatrics. 2006;118(6):e1721-33.
- Institute for Healthcare Improvement.The Breakthrough Series: IHI's Collaborative Model for Achieving Breakthrough Improvement. http://www.ihi.org/knowledge/Pages/IHIWhitePapers/
- Wiecha JL, Nelson TF, Roth BA, Glashagel J, Vaughan L. Disseminating health promotion practices in afterschool programs through YMCA learning collaboratives. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2010;24(3):190-8.
- Mozaffarian RS, Wiecha JL, Roth BA, Nelson TF, Lee RM, Gortmaker SL. Impact of an organizational intervention designed to improve snack and beverage quality in YMCA after-school programs. American Journal of Public Health. 2010;100(5):925-32.
- Mozaffarian RS, Andry A, Lee RM, Wiecha JL, Gortmaker SL. Price and healthfulness of snacks in 32YMCA after-school programs in 4 US metropolitan areas 2006–2008. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2012;9:110097.
- Gortmaker SL, Lee RM, Mozaffarian RS, Sobol A, Nelson TF, Roth BA, Wiecha JL. Effect of an after-school intervention on increases in children's physical activity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2012;44(3):450-7.