Examining Obesity Declines Among School Children: The Role Of Changes In The Food And Physical Activity Environments


The proposed project is designed to identify alterable factors in the food and physical activity(PA) environment that contribute to declines in obesity rates among school children. Childhoodobesity has been associated with higher risk for cardiovascular disease both during childhood andlater as adults. While overall obesity rates remain high in the US, there have been promising reportsof declines among specific subgroups across the country. Yet, little is known about the causes ofsuch declines. This project aims to identify changes in the food and PA environments in schools andthe surrounding communities that predict sustained obesity declines over time among a panel of K-12schools, and explore whether these predictors differ by race/ethnicity, age, and gender of students.The project will also identify those community- and school-level changes that are most commonamong schools with sustained obesity declines and examine whether the distinguishing changesdiffer by race/ethnicity, age, and gender. The study will prospectively follow 120 schools (30,000students/year) over the eight-year study period. Building on our pilot data and established rapportwith school nurses, professionally measured heights, weights, and demographic data on students willbe collected at four time points. At parallel times, school nurses will be surveyed to identify changesin food and PA environments in the schools (e.g., salad bars, drinking water in cafeterias, recess) andchanges in the food and PA environment surrounding schools will be documented (e.g., new /renovated parks and trails and upgraded corner stores). Changes will be geocoded to establishproximity to schools. The Impact of our proposed research derives from our having identified schoolsfor study that have experienced declines and increases in obesity rates and our ability to identifyalterable factors in the environment that can be linked to obesity trends among varied age, gender,and race/ethnicity groups. The findings will provide critical evidence for developing tailoredcommunity and school interventions for reducing the burden of childhood obesity.
Effective start/end date9/15/177/31/21


  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)