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Advisors: Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH and Kathryn Kash, PhD--Thomas Jefferson University


The number of overweight and obese children has tripled over the last thirty years. More significantly, many adult diseases related to obesity, such as Type II diabetes are prevalent among the pediatric population. Healthy eating and physical activity are the most effective ways to reduce overweight and obesity among adolescents. This project designed and pilot tested a nutrition education curriculum, Performance Eating for Athletic Kids (PEAK), at an athletics based after-school program, SquashSmarts, Inc. The curriculum was designed by reviewing current literature, staff interviews, and observation. The goals of the pilot program were to 1) Assess the educational portion of the program, 2) Examine the institutional environment, 3) Analyze institutional snack policies. Ten students between the ages of 11-13, five girls and five boys, participated in the program. The students completed a pre and post-test survey assessing knowledge, attitude, behavior, and self-efficacy. In addition, class interviews discussing the meals eaten in the previous twenty four hours were held everyday before the academic portion of the program. Data from classroom observation and staff interviews were utilized to shape institutional and environmental recommendations to enhance programming. Given the small population, there were no significant statistical analyses, but rather overall frequency provided a guide for curriculum revisions and institutional recommendations. The evaluation revealed a decrease in knowledge of healthy eating and a lessened attitude toward healthy eating, but demonstrated no compelling variation in behavior and self-efficacy. Classroom management proved the most significant barrier in delivering the curriculum for the health educator, program director, and three volunteers that participated in program delivery. Recommendations include preparing a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables for snack time, encouraging staff behavior to model healthy eating, and volunteering at healthy eating programs to fulfill community service portion of SquashSmarts, Inc.