HealthCorps Published Study: Curriculum Improves Teen Lifestyle Knowledge

Posted 01/20/2016 | By HealthCorps

A new study in the Journal of School Health reveals that the HealthCorps’ curriculum significantly increased teen participants’ knowledge of nutrition, mental health and physical activity.

Study results

The journal article, co-written with the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, concluded that HealthCorps’ program significantly, increased participants: knowledge on nutrition; mental health; and physical activity; intake of fruit and vegetables and breakfast consumption. The study results also showed that there was decreased intake of sugar sweetened beverages and energy dense food (typically high in calories and unhealthy fats).

Previous HealthCorps Journal Study

This is HealthCorps second publication in a peer reviewed journal.  An earlier study that involved the HealthCorps program, discussed the “Effect of HealthCorps, a High School Peer Mentoring Program, on Youth Diet and Physical Activity.” The study published in Childhood Obesity involved six schools using the HealthCorps curriculum and five “control schools” that did not use the curriculum. Results of the study indicated that soda pop was significantly reduced among the teens in the HealthCorps program, with girls in particular reducing their consumption of the sweetened drinks. Results also showed that a peer-mentoring program like HealthCorps shows overall promise in helping to improve teen diet and physical activity behaviors.

School-based programs can support lifestyle changes in the home

Since teens spend many hours away from home in school, programs like HealthCorps are unique, effective tools in the battle against teen obesity, and in the effort to improve teen lifestyle habits and mental health. Still, the home environment has to be equally involved in sustaining the impact of a program like HealthCorps. Parents need to model the healthy behaviors that they’d like to see emulated by their kids. Having a healthy breakfast, engaging in physical activity most days of the week, limited the use of tech devices, encouraging family mealtime, are just some of the ways parents can instill healthy habits in their kids and teens. Involving your kids in menu planning and food shopping can also provide stimulating conversations about nutrition.

Quick tips for a healthy home

Teach your child to decipher a food label. Discuss how nutrition impacts their school performance and their energy levels for playtime and sports activities. Allow your children to help you to cook meals. You can easily have a conversation about ingredients and portion sizes when meal preparation is a family experience.

If your child is lucky enough to be enrolled at a school where the HealthCorps’ curriculum is being taught, or if they are exposed to nutrition or fitness lessons, then creating a healthy home environment that showcases a similar emphasis on a healthy lifestyle will reinforce those school-based lessons.

Many schools do not have access to the HealthCorps’ program. Learn more about HCU, HealthCorps University, which may be an option for your school.

Also consider reading:
Are Parents Contributing to Unhealthy Teen Eating?

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