Abstract 18634: Middle School Wellness Program Shows Lasting Impact for Lower Income Community: A Report from Project Healthy Schools
Background: Project Healthy Schools (PHS) is a school based intervention that provides middle-schoolers with in-class learning activities and environmental changes to reduce cardiovascular (CV) and diabetes risks. PHS has 5 main goals: (1) decrease mindless screen time, (2) exercise 150 minutes/week, (3) make better beverage choices, (4) eat more fruits and vegetables and (5) eat less fast and fatty foods. Prior studies have shown positive change among PHS students, and a persistent positive effect through ninth grade in an affluent community; the long-term impact in a lower income community is unknown.
Methods: Follow up data was collected from 238 sixth grade students in Ypsilanti, a lower income community in Southeast Michigan (median household income $34,685). Data collected included height, weight, lipid levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and a modified SPAN self-evaluation, of healthy eating and other lifestyle behaviors. Data was collect prior to the study, after the study in the sixth grade and annually in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades.
Results from each consecutive year were evaluated using chi-squared analyses and paired t-tests. Results: After the intervention, students reported an increase in participation in sports teams, a decrease in TV time and playing video games. The students’ physiological measurements total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (see figure) also improved.
Conclusions: The follow-up data reflects positive changes in physiological measurements and sedentary behaviors , in the four years following the initial intervention. This suggests that wellness programs such as PHS can be successful in influencing healthy behaviors and reducing long term CV risk, in both affluent and lower income communities.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.