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New report: Community programs important in preventing childhood obesity

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New report: Community programs important in preventing childhood obesity

A recent article, published in the current issue of Pediatric Obesity, “The prevalence of community programmes and policies to prevent childhood obesity in a diverse sample of US communities: the Healthy Communities Study,” examines the influence of community programs and policies (CPPs) in preventing childhood obesity. While previous studies have examined the role that CPPs play in the health outcomes of students, this study has the largest sample size to date – examining 130 U.S. communities and health attributes of more than 5,000 elementary and middle school students between 2010 and 2016. The key findings of this study show the value of investing in CPPs that support physical activity and nutrition, which can include increasing the amount of time for students to be physically active, building trails and parks for outdoor recreation, and expanding the availability of healthy foods in schools. Having these CPPs in place is only the first step; this study highlights the importance of ensuring that these programs are designed to be long-term and how these programs should use a comprehensive approach to reach the most children in diverse community settings.

In addition, this study highlighted how the benefits of CPP investments are distributed differently, and unequally. This emphasizes the importance of targeting CPPs to meet the needs of the children and families in each specific community, and especially adapting CPPs to address the health inequities that may already exist in that community.

Additional findings from the study include:

  • The strength and duration of CPPs, the number of CPPs taking place, and the number of individuals reached by CPPs are significantly associated with lower child BMI. A lower BMI was also associated with CPPs that target multiple behaviors related to physical activity and nutrition.
  • Community initiatives are more successful the longer CPPs are in place. For example, researchers found that CPPs that have been in place for six or more years were the most effective.
  • While the dose of and the amount invested in CPPs varied between communities, the study found that investments in CPPs are increasing.
  • CPPs need to be adapted to the children and families in the targeted community, in particular taking into consideration economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds.

Afterschool and summer learning programs are part of a comprehensive approach to support the health and wellness of children – whether through acting as a CPP by providing a setting where children can be physically active and eat healthy snacks and meals, or through supporting the policy goals and implementation of CPPs. More information about the role of afterschool in promoting wellness can be found on our Health and Wellness page. The Healthy Communities Study was largely sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Researchers at the Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas’ Life Span Institute led the community measurement research. Learn more about their research for this study can be found here.

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BY: Rina Moss      09/03/19

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BY: Guest Blogger      08/23/19

Evaluating afterschool: The evaluation basics, part III

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BY: Guest Blogger      07/19/19

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BY: Guest Blogger      07/01/19

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BY: Theresa Carr      06/03/19

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BY: Rina Moss      11/13/18

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BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20

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BY: Guest Blogger      05/23/19

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BY: Erin Hegarty      02/08/19

Afterschool, community partners featured in Aspen Institute’s "Nation At Hope" report

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BY: Dan Gilbert      01/15/19

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BY: Nikki Yamashiro      09/07/18

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BY: Erin Hegarty      05/22/20

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/26/18

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BY: Erin Hegarty      05/26/20

Engaging the Arts Across the Juvenile Justice System: New report outlines opportunities for engagement

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BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

New issue brief: Afterschool fostering protective factors

In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

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BY: Guest Blogger      11/01/19

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In Colorado, the Montrose Recreation District’s Summer Enrichment Program creates a welcoming environment to help students feel safe to share their feelings. At Jóvenes de Puerto Rico en Riesgo, Inc. (JPRR), also known as Puerto Rico Youth at Risk (PRYR), one-on-one...

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New report: Community programs important in preventing childhood obesity

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BY: Guest Blogger      10/12/18

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BY: Guest Blogger      05/26/20

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/20/20

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BY: Jodi Grant      10/16/19

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Adapted from our November 2018 issue brief Promoting Civic Engagement Through Afterschool, developed in partnership with the Asia Society Center for Global Education. Civic engagement starts with our nation’s young people. The afterschool field is an essential partner in ensuring...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      08/16/19

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BY: Leah Silverberg      07/10/18

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By Sam Piha, founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development who are serious about improving the lives of young people. Milbrey McLaughlin has been a leading...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/25/18