Afterschool Research: Health & Wellness

Keeping kids active, encouraging a healthy lifestyle

Afterschool programs are helping young people get enough physical activity and providing nutritious snacks.

Close to 16 percent of U.S. children ages 6-19 are overweight, and another 15 percent are at risk of becoming overweight. Additionally, in 2012 more than 1 in 5 children under the age of 18 lived in poverty and were exposed to hunger. This section covers the variety of ways afterschool programs canand doplay an important role in promoting healthy lifestyles for youth. 

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A Big-Picture Approach to Wellness: Afterschool Supporting Strong Bodies and Minds (September 2018)

A comprehensive approach to wellness—which includes healthy eating and physical activity and extends to additional aspects of health, such as social and emotional skills and competencies—can provide the necessary supports for healthy children grow into healthy adults. This issue brief details the national public health issues children are facing today and discusses the afterschool field’s ability to provide a place where children feel safe, are surrounded by supportive mentors, have access to nutritious foods, are able to be active, can form relationships with their peers, learn how to set positive goals for themselves, and feel empowered to take charge of their lives. Accompanying this brief are five in-depth afterschool program profiles that highlight the different roles programs play to support their students’ physical and social and emotional health:

Health and Wellness

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Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 Surveys

As the coronavirus continues to impact families and communities, the Afterschool Alliance has commissioned a series of surveys of parents and afterschool and summer program providers to monitor the state of the afterschool field and parents' needs as the country adapts to the challenging circumstances and stressors created by the pandemic. Find survey results, interactive dashboards, toplines, and more on this page.

Surveys COVID-19

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An Ongoing Look at Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 – Wave 4 (March 2021)

Roughly one year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, afterschool programs are continuing to help children, families, and their communities push through these difficult times. This dashboard includes findings from Wave 4 of the Afterschool in the Time of COVID-19 survey series, conducted Feb. 19-March 15, 2021, as well as comparisons to previous survey waves.

Surveys COVID-19

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Back to School in the Time of COVID-19 – Wave 3 (November 2020)

Eight months into COVID-19, three key trends are shaping the landscape of afterschool programs across the nation. First, many more afterschool programs are operating now than were in the spring and summer. Second, programs are able to serve only about half as many students as they supported before the pandemic. Third, the children being left behind are disproportionately those from low-income families. These findings are documented in the brief, Back to School in the Time of COVID-19, based on the third in a series of surveys of afterschool program providers to monitor the state of the afterschool field. The Wave 3 provider survey of 1,445 program providers, was conducted between September 28 and October 27, and represents more than 7,300 program sites.

Surveys COVID-19

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What Summer Programming Looks Like for 2021 in the Time of COVID-19 - Wave 5 (Aug 2021)

This summer, as most states lift COVID-19 restrictions and families ease back into public life, summer programs also report moving toward a return to normal, with a nearly 70 percent increase in programs opening their doors and serving students in-person in some capacity compared to the summer of 2020 and 8 in 10 providers reporting optimism about the future of their program. However, issues remain, with more than half of providers serving students in-person reporting a waitlist and operating at reduced capacity due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The Wave 5 provider survey of 937 program providers was conducted June 2-28, 2021, and represents more than 6,400 program sites.

Surveys COVID-19

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Active Hours Afterschool: Childhood Obesity Prevention and Afterschool Programs (2006)

The obesity crisis in America has become so dire that health experts warn this generation of children may be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. This brief addresses the current epidemic of childhood obesity, its health and economic costs, and how after afterschool can play a role in combating childhood obesity by offering healthy snacks and encouraging physical activity in a safe and educational environment.

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Afterschool and Healthy Youth (2004)

Since childhood obesity was declared a national epidemic in 2002, much attention has been focused on the health risks associated with sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition. This brief addresses how afterschool programs are promoting healthy lifestyles and positive attitudes by offering healthy snacks, physical activity, and health education in the curriculum.

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Afterschool and Pregnancy Prevention (2002)

Though teen pregnancy rates in the United States have dropped within the past decade, the teen birth rate in the U.S. is still higher than any other developed nation. This brief explains how a safe environment, positive role models, decision making skills, and health education offered by afterschool programs can aid in teenage pregnancy prevention.

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Afterschool Meals

In 2012, 22 percent of children under the age of 18 lived in poverty and were exposed to hunger. Afterschool meals are an effective way to reduce childhood hunger and promote a healthy childhood weight. This resource provides materials on afterschool and summer meals as well as information about nutrition guidelines.

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Afterschool: Key to Health and Wellness for Pre-teens and Teens (2010)

The Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with MetLife Foundation, is proud to present the third of four issue briefs in this series examining critical issues facing middle school youth and the vital role afterschool programs play in addressing these issues. This brief addresses the innumerable health issues facing middle school students, and shows how afterschool programs can provide a place for youth to be physically active and teach them to make healthy choices.

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