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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Afterschool Supports Children’s Well-Being and Healthy Development (May 2023)

Recent studies describe the rise in young people across the country experiencing anxiety, depression, loneliness, stress, and aggression. At the same time, research has found that this time period—from birth through young adulthood—is “the second most critical period of development” in a person’s life and is shaped by the environments that they move through. This fact sheet highlights the essential role that afterschool and summer programs play to support the healthy development of young people, serving as a safe space that fosters belonging, develops supportive relationships with peers and adult mentors, encourages healthy behaviors, and helps young people build and cultivate the skills necessary to navigate through the struggles and challenges they may come up against in life.

Health and Wellness


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


Kids on the Move: Afterschool Programs Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (March 2015)

This report discusses the current state of healthy eating and physical activity in afterschool, identifies areas for improvement, and provides recommendations moving forward. Kids on the Move is presented as part of the third edition of America After 3PM, which spans a decade of household survey data chronicling how children spend the hours between 3 and 6 p.m.

Health and Wellness

Executive Summary