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Evaluation identifies the most promising combinations of school-based Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) interventions for improving student fitness

  • Program: School Health and Wellness
  • Background: Poor physical fitness, which is associated with reductions in cognitive performance and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, is prevalent among low-income youth. USDA’s $430 million SNAP-Ed program aims to improve physical activity among low-income youth through policy, systems, and environmental changes, education, and promotional activities in community settings. To inform programming efforts, this study aims to identify which combinations of SNAP-Ed school-based interventions are associated with better student fitness. Methods: SNAP-Ed school-based physical activity-related intervention components (i.e., policy, systems, and environmental changes, education curricula, and promotional activities) were reported by local health departments in California through the Program Evaluation and Reporting System. Latent class analysis identified underlying school-based intervention classes. Fitness testing results (VO2max) were obtained for 5th and 7th grade students attending SNAP-Ed eligible public schools in California during the 2016-17 school year (n=442,743 students; 4,271 schools). Multilevel models adjusting for school and child characteristics assessed the cross-sectional associations between intervention combinations and student fitness. Results: Students attending schools with California Department of Public Health SNAP-Ed physical activity-related interventions focusing comprehensively on policy together with improving physical activity opportunities had, on average, 1.17mL/kg/min (95% CI: 0.72, 1.62) greater VO2max than students attending schools without any intervention. They also had significantly greater VO2max compared to students attending schools with any other type of interventions. Conclusions: Comprehensive school-based physical activity interventions that include policy changes along with improving physical activity opportunities appear to be the most effective approach for improving fitness and therefore should be prioritized in SNAP-Ed efforts.
Sridharshi C. Hewawitharana
University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute
Research Data Analyst
  • Linked Session ID: 941941
  • Authors: Sridharshi C. Hewawitharana, MPH1, Gail Woodward-Lopez, MPH, RD1, Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, PhD, RD2, Francesco Acciai, PhD2, Hannah R. Thompson, PhD, MPH3, Wendi Gosliner, DrPH, RD1
    1University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute, 2College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, 3University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute and University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health
  • Learning Outcome 1: Identify latent classes of SNAP-Ed physical activity-related interventions being implemented in public schools.
  • Learning Outcome 2: Evaluate and compare the associations between different SNAP-Ed physical activity-related intervention latent classes and student fitness.
  • Learning Outcome 3: Discuss the implications of the relative effectiveness of different SNAP-Ed physical activity-related, school-based intervention latent classes on SNAP-Ed programming.
  • Linked Session Title: Physical Activity and Nutrition in School Settings