Childhood obesity is the most pressing public health problem in the United States. Prevalence of child obesity has tripled in the past 3 decades, leading to comorbidities. Teaching children healthy habits is vital to reducing obesity. Children need role models to set positive examples and edify consequences of unhealthy habits. The Boys and Girls Club of Charlestown, MA implemented Health360 policies to educate children about healthy habits.
To examine if the Health360 policies make an impact on children to develop healthy habits in order to reduce risk of obesity.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Qualitative study focused on the 4 Health360 policies. Eight hands-on lessons were taught weekly for 2 months at The Boys and Girls Club after school program. An assessment survey was given at the start and end of the study. Participants were 8 third and fourth grade Latino girls.
Increased participants’ knowledge and appreciation of healthy lifestyle benefits. Narrative analysis assessed information from pre- and post-surveys, as well as observations and experiences of participants.
The pre- and post-survey assessment revealed children had higher awareness of the Health360 policies after attending the lessons. All participants believed in the importance of embodying the policies post-lessons, as opposed to 25% pre-instruction. It was observed that the more lessons attended, the more children were engaged in learning about healthy habits. When a health policy was taught a second time it reinforced the lesson and participants retained information. They asked insightful questions, grasped the benefits of healthful lifestyles, and contemplated making changes in their lives.
Childhood obesity is a major health concern, which is exacerbated by a lack of positive examples for healthy habits. When children are exposed to the benefits of healthy lifestyles they are more likely to make changes. This could aid in reducing the risk of chronic disease.