Performance Improvement 2008. What Health Education Methods Encourage Youth to Adopt Healthy Nutritional and Physical Activity Behaviors?

01/01/2008

The study sought promising and innovative health education methods that targeted 8-13 year-olds and promoted healthy eating and physical activity. Compelled by the growing epidemic of overweight and obesity among today's youth, this study focused on the relationship between health education and youth. Health messages increasingly compete for youths' time. In order to be effective, messages need to be dynamic and reflect the ever-changing "kid" environment. Researchers reviewed programs that used interdisciplinary health education curriculum, interactive video or computer games, youth-developed messaging, or popular media programming. Next, researchers convened a workshop, "Health Education @home @school @play @com: Easy and Fun Innovations," to connect professionals from different sectors and disciplines. Health, media, and technology experts, who do not routinely come together, discussed methods for enhancing development of appealing and fun messages, integrating media and technology into innovative programs, and overcoming environmental and structural barriers for disseminating programs. Lastly, researchers conducted student focus groups.

Youth were more likely to adopt healthy behaviors they learned through activities they valued. In conclusion: collaboration across sectors, roles, and functions is essential; never underestimate the importance of fun (as defined by kids); understand and engage youth (the "consumers"); integrate tools and technologies that have appeal and refresh them; increase funding to support enhancements of effective programs; and use pre-designed general programming for easier use. The findings from this report and youth feedback were used to expand a program featured in the workshop. It proved relevant to other school and community-based nutrition physical activity programs targeting youth.

Report Title: Health Education @home@school@play@com: Easy and Fun Innovations, http://odphp.osophs.dhhs.gov
Agency Sponsor: OPHS, Office of Public Health and Science
Federal Contact: Sarah Linde-Feucht, M.D., 240-453-8256
Performer: Abt Associates Inc; Bethesda, MD
PIC ID: 8804

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