Skip Navigation

Strengthen the Evidence for Maternal and Child Health Programs

New: MCHbest strategies database for sample ESMs

Evidence Tools
MCHbest. NPM 8: Physical Activity

MCH Best Logo five children on bicycles

Strategy. Multicomponent School-Based Obesity Prevention

Approach. Provide a multifaceted method in a school-based setting to improve the overall health of students and prevent obesity.

Return to main MCHbest page >>

Overview.  Preliminary research shows that multicomponent school-based interventions, which can include a range of targeted educational, environmental, and nutritional modifications, may have the potential to positively impact physical activity in children and adolescents, however further research is needed. These strategies often include healthy living and nutrition education classes, increased physical activity opportunities, as well as school-wide initiatives and parent and teacher/staff involvement. An example of a study with a positive outcome introduced students to fictional characters that would promote healthy behaviors (eating, physical activity) during school. 1

Evidence. Mixed. Some research showed positive results for this strategy. Not all studies had positive impacts, therefore further research is needed to confirm effects. Access the peer-reviewed evidence through the MCH Digital Library. (Read more about understanding evidence ratings).

Target Audience. Children/adolescents.

Outcome.¬† Increased physical activity, decreased sedentary behavior, BMI, as well as positive behavioral changes were all outcomes measured. For detailed outcomes related to each study supporting this strategy, click on the peer-reviewed evidence link above and read the “Intervention Results” for each study.

Examples from the Field. Access descriptions of ESMs that use this strategy directly or intervention components that aligns with this strategy. You can use these ESMs to see how other Title V agencies are addressing the NPM.

Sample ESMs. Using the approach “Provide a multifaceted method in a school-based setting to improve the overall health of students and prevent obesity,” here are sample ESMs you can use to model for your own measures using the Results-Based Accountability framework (for suggestions on how to develop programs to support this strategy, see The Role of Title V in Adapting Strategies):

Quadrant 1:
Measuring Quantity of Effort
("What/how much did we do?")

  • Number of schools offering multicomponent obesity prevention interventions focused on healthy living, nutrition, and physical activity.
  • Number of students who participated in multicomponent obesity prevention interventions.

Quadrant 2:
Measuring Quality of Effort
("How well did we do it?")

  • Percent of schools offering multicomponent obesity prevention interventions focused on healthy living, nutrition, and physical activity.
  • Percent of students who participated in multicomponent obesity prevention interventions.

Quadrant 3:
Measuring Quantity of Effect
("Is anyone better off?")

  • Number of students who reported increased knowledge after participating in multicomponent obesity prevention interventions.
  • Number of students who showed improvements in physical activity levels or attitude towards physical activity and healthy behaviors.

Quadrant 4:
Measuring Quality of Effect
("How are they better off?")

  • Percent of students that increased physical activity levels or other healthy behaviors.
  • Percent of students involved in an obesity prevention program whose teacher or parent reported at least one hour of physical activity per day at the time of discharge from the program.

Note. ESMs become stronger as they move from measuring quantity to measuring quality (moving from Quadrants 1 and 3, respectively, to Quadrants 2 and 4) and from measuring effort to measuring effect (moving from Quadrants 1 and 2, respectively, to Quadrants 3 and 4).

Learn More. Read how to create stronger ESMs and how to measure ESM impact more meaningfully through Results-Based Accountability.


References:

1 Larson JN, Brusseau TA, Wengreen H, Fairclough SJ, Newton MM, Hannon JC. Fit "N" Cool Kids: The Effects of Character Modeling and Goal Setting on Children's Physical Activity and Fruit and Vegetable Consumption. Clinical Medicine Insights: Pediatrics. 2018;12:1-7.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U02MC31613, MCH Advanced Education Policy, $3.5 M. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.