HealthCorps’ Peer Mentoring Program Has Positive Impact on Teen Health According to October Issue of Childhood Obesity

Posted 11/07/2011 | By HealthCorps

Founder/Chairman Dr. Mehmet Oz Contributed to Study

New York, NY- November 7, 2011 – HealthCorps, a peer mentoring program implemented in thirteen states, has been shown to be an effective program according to a study published in the October issue of the journal Childhood Obesity. The most striking finding was a reduction in soda pop consumption among HealthCorps participants, but there was also evidence of increased physical activity and improved health knowledge.

HealthCorps, part of a national health movement in at risk communities, was founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz, HealthCorps Chairman, world-renowned cardiac surgeon and two-time Emmy® Award-winning host of “The Dr. Oz Show.” The heart of HealthCorps is the Coordinator, a recent college graduate who defers entry into medical school or graduate health programs to serve as a Peer-Mentor through a two-year full time assignment at a designated public high school in a high need community.

Administering a curriculum on nutrition, fitness and mental strength, Coordinators conduct approximately twelve classes a week and lead after school and community programs. They also serve as a hub for best practices – partnering with public health departments, school systems, foundations, the business community and other non-profit organizations to coalesce all their efforts.

The Childhood Obesity article, “Effect of HealthCorps, a High School Peer Mentoring Program, on Youth Diet and Physical Activity,” discusses the results of a multi-year study funded by Affinity Health Plan, a Bronx, New York non-profit managed care organization and conducted by Professor John Cawley, Ph.D., of the Cornell University Department of Policy Analysis and Management in the College of Human Ecology and Department of Economics.

The study represents the first quantitative evaluation of HealthCorps whose programming will impact at least 32,400 teenagers in 54 schools and 64,800 community residents across 13 states in the school year 2011/12. The purpose was to measure the impact of the HealthCorps program on healthy behaviors such as diet and physical activity, as well as health knowledge. The study involved 971 high school students enrolled in 11 New York City high schools (6 treatment, 5 control).

The results of the study showed that participants reduced consumption of soda pop by 0.61 times per week or 13.0%. This finding was most pronounced among girls, who lowered soda pop consumption by 1.12 times per week or 25.7%. There was also evidence of increased physical activity relative to the year before, and increased health knowledge.

According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, “My vision for HealthCorps is to engage America’s young people as the catalyst to enhance the nation’s health. Although no one program can be a panacea for the health issues plaguing America, the HealthCorps program is an effective path forward. Peer mentoring is a proven model for educating youth and the findings of this study prove that peer educators can extend their reach to health and physical education.”

Dr. Cawley said, “I was delighted to have the opportunity to evaluate HealthCorps, both because it’s an important program in and of itself, and because in general there is an urgent need to know what works and what does not work to prevent youth obesity. This was a unique effort that involved the collaboration of schools, the nonprofit sector, a health insurance company, physicians and academics.”

“We were pleased to play a part in an initiative that addresses a critical health concern that is prevalent in the communities we serve,” said Maura Bluestone, president and CEO of Affinity. “Our hope is that the findings of this study will make important contributions to improving the health and wellbeing of our young people.”

According to HealthCorps President Michelle Bouchard, “We’re as much a research lab and social movement as a program. We help young Americans find out what they are really hungry for and why, so they get fired up about what they are discovering and spread the word to their friends and families.”

About HealthCorps
HealthCorps® (www.healthcorps.org) a 501 (C) 3 co-founded by heart surgeon and Daytime Emmy Award-winning talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife Lisa Oz, is building a movement to fight the childhood obesity crisis by helping Americans discover what they are really hungry for and why. HealthCorps “Coordinators” carry out unique in-school and community programming targeting high-need populations. Using peer-mentoring to deliver a progressive curriculum in nutrition, fitness and mental strength, HealthCorps Coordinators give teens purpose, help develop human character and inspire an interest in health and culinary arts careers. HealthCorps also serves as a unique research laboratory – exploring the complex, underlying causes of the obesity crisis and discovering and communicating solutions. HealthCorps is bringing many initiatives together to address the “Whole Child” and activate the students’ mind, body and spirit. As a result, HealthCorps is transforming the educational paradigm one school at a time. The program network spans 54 schools in 13 states.

About Affinity Health Plan 
Affinity Health Plan is an independent, not-for-profit organization offering quality health care coverage to underserved New Yorkers. Its programs are sponsored by New York State and include Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus, Medicaid managed care, and Medicare. Founded in 1986, Affinity serves more than 275,000 members in New York City, Long Island, and the surrounding counties of Westchester, Rockland and Orange. For more information, visitwww.affinityplan.org or follow Affinity on Facebook and YouTube.


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