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Obesity prevention and the Health promoting Schools framework: Essential components and barriers to success

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
DatePublished - 13 Feb 2015

Abstract

Background: Obesity is an important public health issue. Finding ways to increase physical activity and improve nutrition, particularly in children, is a clear priority. Our Cochrane review of the World Health Organization's Health Promoting Schools (HPS) framework found this approach improved students' physical activity and fitness, and increased fruit and vegetable intake. However, there was considerable heterogeneity in reported impacts. This paper synthesises process evaluation data from these studies to identify factors that might explain this variability. Methods: We searched 20 health, education and social-science databases, and trials registries and relevant websites in 2011 and 2013. No language or date restrictions were applied. We included cluster randomised controlled trials. Participants were school students aged 4-18 years. Studies were included if they: took an HPS approach (targeting curriculum, environment and family/community); focused on physical activity and/or nutrition; and presented process evaluation data. A framework approach was used to facilitate thematic analysis and synthesis of process data. Results: Twenty-six studies met the inclusion criteria. Most were conducted in America or Europe, with children aged 12 years or younger. Conclusions: Stronger alliances between health and education appear essential to intervention success. Researchers must work with schools to develop and implement interventions, and to evaluate their impact on both health and educational outcomes as this may be a key determinant of scalability. If family engagement is attempted, better ways to achieve this must be developed and evaluated. Further evaluations of interventions to promote physical activity and nutrition during adolescence are needed. Finally, process evaluations must move beyond simple measures of acceptability/fidelity to include detailed contextual information to illuminate exactly what works, for whom, in what contexts and why.

    Structured keywords

  • DECIPHer

    Research areas

  • Adolescents, Children, Health promoting Schools, Healthy eating, Interventions, Physical activity, Process evaluation, Schools

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