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K-State researchers say after-school programs should promote activity, healthy nutrition
Date:8/3/2009

Children's after-school activities often consist of sedentary behavior such as watching television, but after-school programs that offer physical activity and healthy snacks could be the best place for children's health.

David Dzewaltowski, head of the department of kinesiology at Kansas State University, and other K-State researchers have found that quality after-school programs are an important contributor to children's physical activity.

"Participation in after-school programs tends to drop with increasing age as parents believe their children can be at home without adult supervision," Dzewaltowski said. "Parents should strive to place their children in healthy environments that are supervised by adults and that provide physical activity and healthful food options."

The researchers conducted the Healthy Opportunities for Physical Activity and Nutrition, or HOP'N, After-School Project, which was designed to prevent obesity by enhancing the quality of after-school programming. The study found that some existing after-school programs lack in quality and do not provide adequate nutrition or physical activity, especially for different genders and fitness levels.

The HOP'N After-School Project includes four elements: a daily healthy snack, daily physical activity, weekly nutrition and physical activity education sessions. It also provides continuous staff training.

Eight elementary schools and after-school programs in Lawrence participated in the K-State study during a three-year period. The after-school settings were observed throughout the school year. Participating children has their height and weight measured in the fall and spring. Children also wore pedometer devices to measure their physical activity. After a baseline year, the HOP'N program was implemented at four of the sites for two years, and the other sites continued their regular programming as a project control.

Baseline findings of the study show
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Contact: David Dzewaltowski
dadx@k-state.edu
785-532-6486
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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