Archive for the ‘obesity’ Category


SPARK celebrates 25! Reflection from Dr. Jim Sallis

Monday, July 21st, 2014

SPARK celebrates 25!

By Jim Sallis

It’s exhilarating to celebrate the 25th year of SPARK. In 1989 we had big ambitions for our new NIH grant. We wanted to define what health-related physical education is, comprehensively evaluate a program that we designed to meet that vision, and then encourage schools to adopt the program so kids could be healthier. I could not have imagined where those ideas have led by 2014. I am very proud to be part of the SPARK story, because SPARK has improved the physical activity, health, and quality of life for millions children and adolescents over the past 25 years.

The research teams worked hard on the SPARK and M-SPAN studies that produced the original curricula, training, and support model and materials. But there are numerous successful research programs that never have any impact in people’s lives. What makes SPARK different is the staff, led by Paul Rosengard. Paul and the staff not only share the vision of improving children’s health through physical activity, but they have built an organization that brings the joy of SPARK to about 1.5 million young people every day. I use “joy” of SPARK deliberately, because the first data we collected in a pilot study were enjoyment ratings of SPARK PE classes. We were pleased that the fifth graders chose “smiley faces” almost all the time for all the class activities. Delivering fun has been our job at SPARK ever since.

At 25, SPARK as an organization is now an adult. The staff have high level skills and are dedicated to doing a great job at customer service. We have created a national network of trainers, and the feedback from staff development sessions continues to be consistently enthusiastic. We take responsibility for updating, expanding, and improving programs and products. Like most young adults, SPARK is a sophisticated user of technology. Our video group has produced hundreds of videos that help instructors deliver great physical activity programs. All materials are now available online. I am amazed that teachers now can take all of SPARK out on the field with iPads. That is a real revolution in physical education. SPARK is even doing some traveling, growing rapidly in India and China. I’m confident SPARK will continue to evolve and innovate so we can get better at delivering great instruction to teachers and great physical activity to students.

As long as our schools want children to be active and healthier, we will keep delivering the joy of SPARK.

Jim Sallis

http://sallis.ucsd.edu

James F. Sallis, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine Chief,

Division of Behavioral Medicine. http://behavioralmedicine.ucsd.edu/

University of California, San Diego

SPARK Staff at ATM Dinner

SPARK staff celebrates 25 years at the Annual Trainers Meeting in June 2014

Schooling, Health and Youth Development – What is Necessary?

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Schooling, Health and Youth Development – What is Necessary?

Provided by ASCD Whole Child Programs · www.ascd.org · www.wholechildeducation.org

Over the past few years, ASCD authors have penned a number of articles about the need for schools, educators and policymakers to focus on the health and well-being of their students. Not just for the sake of their health and well-being (if that shouldn’t be enough on its own) but also to support effective teaching and learning.

Here are just a few selections to read and share:

Physical Activity

Integrating Movement Roundup

Ensuring a high-quality physical education program is important. Equally important is ensuring that students are active across the school day and not just in PE class. Research shows that kids who are physically active are not only healthier, but also likely to perform better academically; and short activity breaks during the school day can improve concentration and behavior and enhance learning

Play and Recess

Playing a Game Is the Voluntary Attempt to Overcome Unnecessary Obstacles

Last month we ran the theme of integrating movement throughout the school day (and outside of physical education classes). Obviously one place where this should be a no-brainer is recess. But it’s been scary seeing how many schools and districts have been cutting back on recess time to either provide enrichment classes or add additional academic study time into the school day.

Investing in Healthy Recess to Nurture the Whole Child

A healthy, positive school environment transcends what goes on in the classroom. In fact, what happens at recess holds a crucial key to developing the whole child. A school that provides time and space for students to run, talk, and play helps ensure every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Experience and research tell us that active students learn better, and daily recess is proven to help students focus in the classroom.

Does Better Recess Equal a Better School Day?

In a new study released Tuesday, Mathematica Policy Research and the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University rigorously evaluated the Playworks program and found that it improved outcomes in the areas of school climate, conflict resolution and aggression, physical activity, and learning and academic performance.

Nutrition

Reducing the Effects of Child Poverty

In today’s global economic state, many families and children face reduced circumstances. The 2008 economic crisis became a “household crisis” (PDF) when higher costs for basic goods, fewer jobs and reduced wages, diminished assets and reduced access to credit, and reduced access to public goods and services affected families who coped, in part, by eating fewer and less nutritious meals, spending less on education and health care, and pulling children out of school to work or help with younger siblings. These “new poor” join those who were vulnerable prior to the financial shocks and economic downturn.

No Child Should Grow Up Hungry

We are proud to welcome Share Our Strength as a whole child partner. Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign aims to end childhood hunger in the United States. It connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending childhood hunger a national priority.

Mental Health

Best Questions: Mental Health

More than 20 years ago, I spent one school year as the full-time school counselor in an early childhood center in Washington, D.C. Our enrollment was 250 full-day preK and kindergarten students in an old, huge brick building with 20-foot high ceilings and massive center courtyard-like hallways. I spent the year in easily washable clothes and with my hair in a ponytail at all times because, as anyone who has ever worked in early childhood can tell you, fancy clothes and fancy hair don’t mix well with peanut butter and finger paint.

A Health Iceberg

I use these slides often when discussing health. It starts with the tenets, becomes a pyramid, and then ends with what I call a “health iceberg.” Let me show you what I mean.

The common thread through all of these articles is that health and well-being matter and they determine how well we learn, grow and achieve. Health and education are symbiotic. What affects one affects the other. The healthy child learns better just as the educated child leads a healthier life. Similarly, a healthier environment—physically as well as socially-emotionally—provides for more effective teaching and learning.

To learn more about ASCD and Whole Child Education, visit the links below.

www.ascd.org

www.wholechildeducation.org

Taxing Junk Food

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Although 63 percent of Americans polled said they were against a tax on junk food, some health experts are arguing that adding a tax to foods with high sugar content would improve health, reduce healthcare costs and generate revenue. Here is a look at some of our findings.

Taxing Junk Food

How Has the Childhood Obesity Rate Changed in the Last 30 Years?

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Child obesity is a modern-day epidemic. The last 30 years have been especially devastating as the percentage of obese children skyrocketed to more than double what it was in the 80s. Thousands of non-profits, communities, schools, and political leaders have taken notice and started working to reverse the damage; but it is no easy feat—America’s lifestyle has changed, and we must get to the root of the problem to change it all.

Statistics: Child obesity has been closely measured since the early 1980s and the data shows us just how serious the problem is. The rate of obesity in children ages 6-11 increased from 6.5 to 19.6 percent between the years 1980 and 2008. In just 28 years, obesity nearly tripled in all age groups under 18 years old. Between 16 to 33 percent of adolescents are now obese, meaning in certain parts of the United States one in three kids is obese. Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado all have a child and adolescent obesity rate of fewer than 10% while Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Delaware have a rate of over 20 percent. This data is from 2005-2007, but the numbers have moved in the wrong direction since then.

Risks and Affects: Obese kids are at risk for numerous health problems and diseases. Obesity-related medical problems include type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and disability. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States. With between 100,000-400,000 obesity-related deaths per year and an estimated healthcare expenditure of $117 billion, obesity has surpassed health-care costs related to smoking and drinking. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, joint problems, sleep apnea, and psychological/social problems are just the beginning of what an obese child can expect to deal with.

The causes and solutions to such a widespread epidemic are complex and run deeper than we’re able to cover in a brief blog post. However, we’ve described some of the main factors below to help you get a sense of the main issues surrounding this crisis.

Causes:
Causes for obesity are vast, and often many different factors and special circumstances contribute. Below are just a few factors that can cause obesity:

  • Family Habits: Children are ten times more likely to be obese if both parents are obese. It isn’t always the family habits causing the children to be obese, but they can have a direct impact on the problem.
  • Food Choices: Fast food, vending machines, and the cheap snacks from the store are what kids have grown accustomed to and eat on a daily basis. Easy access to unhealthy food makes it easy for parents to feed their kids for cheap and also let the kids have what they want, but that doesn’t make it a healthy choice.
  • TV & Video Games: Studies have shown a direct correlation between the amount of TV watched and levels of obesity. The most obese adolescents are the ones who spent the most time in front of the television. Children today spend on average 25 percent of their day watching TV, playing video games, or spending time on the computer. For each additional hour a kid watches TV, they will probably consume 167 extra calories.
  • Fast Food: The American stereotype of eating too much fast food is backed up by several studies. Americans spent $6 billion on fast food in 1970 and $142 billion in 2006. Fast food is always easier and often cheaper than cooking healthy meals at home, which is why many American families eat out multiple times per week, sometimes every day.
  • Calorie Count: The poor food choices in combination with too much TV and video games have result in kids taking in more calories than they are burning every single day. That is the basic foundation of weight gain and must be reversed in order to keep our kids healthy.

Solutions
Solutions for childhood obesity are also varied and are dependent on many different factors. Here are a few ideas for kick-starting a healthier lifestyle:

  • Physical Activity: Physical activity must increase to an hour per day just so kids can burn off the extra calories. Physical education programs at school have the potential to influence a kid’s perspective on exercise and sports, and families can enroll their children in after school sports. Even just taking the kids down to the park to toss a Frisbee will make an impact. Make moving fun, and your kids will learn to choose an active over sedentary lifestyle.
  • Healthier Choices: If you happen to be eating fast food, choose a healthier item on the menu with less calories, sugar, and simple carbohydrates. At home, ramp up the amount of vegetables and teach your kids to make their own healthy food choices. If the kids feel like they have a say in the decision, they will enjoy the cooking experience and be motivated to eat healthily. Schools must take out the junk food and replace it with healthy snacks and lunches to help in the fight against obesity.
  • Education and Participation: Health education at school, home, and in the community will teach the kids to make their own healthy decisions. School PE programs should focus on fun activities that everyone participates in. The community can promote healthy events and get the kids involved, the parents can teach the kids to cook, and kids can learn about the risks and benefits of a healthy versus poor diet. Safe parks to play in, safe bike trails, and community events like a trash clean-up get everyone on their feet and enjoying the great outdoors.

New Funding for State Health Departments to Support Chronic Disease Prevention

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

“Prevention and Public Health Fund Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Program”

Deadline: July 22, 2011

Funding Amount: $300,000 – $2.4M

  • Anticipated Awards: 53 (non-competitive)
  • Project Period: 3 years
  • Approx. Current Fiscal Year Funding: $ 39 mil
  • Approx. Total Project Period Funding: $ 129 mil
  • Funder: Affordable Care Act through the Prevention and Public Health Fund

Eligibility: State health departments, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands or their Bona Fide Agents. Grantees currently funded under FOAs DP09-901 are eligible to apply. P09-901 funds 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands (i.e. the same agency that is funded under P09-901 must be the lead applicant)

Purpose: Create or update state chronic disease plans that incorporate coordinated approaches to program planning, implementation, and evaluation to achieve measurable outcomes for the top five leading chronic disease causes of death and disability (e.g. heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis) and their associated risk factors.

For more information and to apply for this grant visit: http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do?mode=VIEW&oppId=98533

Some helpful FAQ:

Question: How is the Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Program different from the Community Transformation Grants (CTGs)?

Answer: The Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Program is different from the Community Transformation Grant Program. The CCDP&HP Grant Program will support development or enhancement of State Health Department leadership, coordination, expertise and direction across targeted disease programs in a state or territories’ chronic disease portfolio.

In contrast, the CTG initiative is focused on supporting the implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based community preventive health activities to reduce chronic disease rates, prevent the development of secondary conditions, address health disparities, and develop a stronger evidence base for effective prevention programming.

Question. Does the Prevention and Public Health Fund Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Program replace the funding for categorically funded chronic disease programs, including heart disease and stroke, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and nutrition, physical activity, and obesity?

Answer. The CCDP&HP grant program does NOT replace the funding for categorical chronic disease programs. This is NEW money for state health departments to use to strengthen existing chronic disease capacity, specifically in cross-cutting areas like surveillance, epidemiology, evaluation, policy, communications, health systems work, and community partnerships/mobilization – areas that all or many of the categorical programs depend on and may each have developed to some degree on their own (e.g., a CVD epidemiologist, obesity epidemiologist, etc). It is expected that the chronic disease program will be able to improve efficiency and effectiveness of categorical programs by strengthening these cross-cutting areas

Question: Rumor has it that this current FOA/supplement to all 50 states is replacing the funding for the individual programs (ie, no more individual programs nor funds for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis). Is this the case?

Answer: The CCDP&HP grant program does NOT replace the funding for categorical chronic disease programs. This is NEW money for state health departments to use to strengthen existing chronic disease capacity…

National Childhood Obesity Facts, Figures and a Solution to End the Epidemic

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Childhood obesity is a major concern in the United States. Over the past few decades there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children suffering from obesity. Kids are staying indoors more with limited physical activity and increased caloric consumption, resulting in a nationwide epidemic of obesity in our children. There are hundreds of organizations, large and small, fighting to stem this trend and help get our kids’ health back in check. But a business or non-profit can’t do it alone. Parents and kids must both be willing to change their habits to create a healthier lifestyle.

Causes of Childhood Obesity
There are many causes for childhood obesity, and sometimes a complex combination of circumstances work together to put our children at risk. One thing we know for sure is that reduced physical activity in school is a component and a risk factor for childhood obesity. Studies have shown that throughout our nation, less than one third of school-aged children (age 6-17) engage in physical activity – that is, activity that makes them sweat and increase breathing and heart rate for at least 20 minutes. And that’s just the minimum recommended amount of physical activity. There is no surprise here that childhood obesity has become a frightening epidemic in our country.

Risks of Child Obesity

  • High Cholesterol and Blood Pressure: High levels of “bad” cholesterol called LDL and also high blood pressure are common in obese children.
  • Bone and Joint Problems: There have been numerous cases of obese children experiencing a slipped growth plate in their hip bone.
  • Sleep Apnea: Obstruction of the child’s airway is common and can result in many other day-to-day problems like poor school performance and nighttime bedwetting on top of the primary risk where the individual stops breathing in their sleep.
  • Psychological Problems: Probably the most severe risk of obesity in kids is their emotional and psychological health. Kids will develop poor self-esteem and accept the fact that they will be obese their entire lives, making it extremely difficult for them to change their lifestyle in later years.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: What used to be only of concern in adults and very rare in children is not a major concern for obese kids.

Child Obesity Statistics

  • Prevalence of Obesity: Among children ages 6-11, there was a 6.5% rate of obesity in 1980 which increased to 18.6% by 2008. Ages 12-19 increased from 5% to 18.1% in the same time period.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: 70% of obese children from 5-17 years have at least one symptom and risk factor of cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Low-Income Obesity: 1 of 7 low income children in preschool is obese.
  • 13 million children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese.
  • Obese adolescents are 80% more likely to end up as obese adults.
  • Healthcare expenses directly related to childhood obesity are $14 billion every year.

One Solution to the Epidemic: Quality PE in SchoolsNational Childhood Obesity Facts, Figures and a Solution to End the Epidemic
The problem of childhood obesity is urgent – changes need to be made immediately. Children need positive influences from the adults around them to make better choices. And who better to provide that than a physical education teacher? In general, children attend about 5 or 6 hours of school, 5 days per week. Physical education classes might take up about an hour per day. Imagine the good that could be done for children if that time was optimized with fun, challenging, and healthy activity.

Implementing quality PE in children’s school schedule would be a great first step to turning this epidemic around. PE classes should be used to really teach children about how important a healthy lifestyle is. We can reverse the stigma about PE classes being boring, awkward, and repetitive by breathing new life into old games and activities. Children can learn that challenging themselves and staying healthy are great for self-esteem and making new friends. Teachers should be passionate about their purpose, and lead by positive example.

When students are able to connect with teachers and create a respectful relationship, they are highly more likely to engage in activities and try their hardest. With energetic and fun teachers, a challenging and exciting curriculum, and education about the crucial importance of physical activity and healthy eating, children will take fitness seriously. We will improve the PE in our schools, and let our children reap the benefits.

CDC’s Community Transformation Grants (CTGs)

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Created by the Affordable Care Act, Community Transformation Grants (CTGs) are aimed at helping communities implement projects proven to reduce chronic diseases – such as diabetes and heart disease. Over $100M is available for the current year, and local/state health departments are a perfect fit for this opportunity!

Deadlines:

Letter of Intent: June 6, 2011

Application: July 15, 2011

Summary:

  • Support evidence and practice-based community and clinical prevention and wellness strategies that will lead to specific, measurable health outcomes to reduce chronic disease rates.
  • To create healthier communities by
  1. Building capacity to implement broad evidence and practice-based policy, environmental, programmatic and infrastructure changes in large counties, and in states, tribes and territories, including in rural and frontier areas
  2. Supporting implementation of such interventions in five strategic areas (“Strategic Directions”) aligning with “Healthy People 2020” focus areas and achieving demonstrated progress in the following five performance measures outlined in the Affordable Care Act: 1) changes in weight 2) changes in proper nutrition 3) changes in physical activity 4) changes in tobacco use prevalence 5) changes in emotional well being and overall mental health

Eligibility:

  • Local governmental agencies, state governmental agencies, Health Departments, ministries of health, and other governmental agencies
  • Federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages; Tribal organizations; Urban Indian Health Programs; Tribal and intertribal consortia
  • State nonprofit organizations
  • Local nonprofit organizations

Links:

CDC Community Transformation Grants Homepage

Grants.gov Notice and Application

Before You Apply:

SPARK can help you meet the requirements outlined in the CTGs application!

SPARK offers evidence-based Physical Education, Physical Activity and Coordinated School Health programs targeting pre-K through 12th grade students in and out of school, and our programs have been proven to WORK and LAST.

Click Here to download a detailed document that will explain how you can use SPARK to align with the goals of the CTG. This document includes information that shows:

  1. Alignment to the Strategic Directions and Strategies within the CTGs application
  2. Alignment to CDC’s long-term measures for addressing physical activity and nutrition
  3. Why you should partner with SPARK for your CTGS submission
  4. How SPARK deliverables align with CDC prevention outcomes
  5. Which SPARK Evaluation & Assessment options might be used to support your submission

Next Steps:

Contact Kymm Ballard, Ed.D at SPARK. She’ll ask you a few questions, learn about your current programs, and listen to your vision for creating a healthier community. Together, we’ll create a program that will WORK and LAST.

Kymm Ballard, Ed.D

Partnership Development Specialist

kballard@sparkpe.org

Physical Education vs. Physical Activity

Monday, July 19th, 2010

This week Michelle Obama hosted a live chat and took questions from the field as they announced the new look to the Let’s Move! website. This movement has been exceptional way to raise awareness and a call to action to improve the health of our families in this country.

One disturbing piece of information continues to hamper physical education successfully moving forward. The terms “physical activity” and “physical education” are often used interchangeably, yet they differ in important ways. Understanding the difference between the two is critical to understanding why both contribute to the development of healthy, active children. Think of this: Physical Activity is a behavior. Physical Education (PE) is a core subject area with a curriculum that includes physical activity.

Here is NASPE’s definition of physical activity vs. physical education: http://tinyurl.com/27j2pcv

To those of us at SPARK, and certainly to the researchers, active classes is a hallmark of quality Physical Education. A PE class in which students are standing or sitting most of the time cannot be a good PE class. PE is about teaching through the physical. The goal is to teach movement skills, teamwork, and positive social interactions, as well as improve fitness and promote the joy of movement by getting students active. Right?

What are your thoughts??

-Kymm Ballard, Ed.D

Obesity Dollars and Sense

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
It’s swimsuit season — that time of year when people assess the way the look with fewer clothes on — and maybe, resolve to make some changes.

Whatever the motivator to shed fat/lose weight, statistics show there is surely a need for Americans to take a long look in the mirror. A recent USA Today front page article titled, “Obesity is a key link to soaring health tab” said that about 40% of adults — more than 72 million — were obese in 2006; up from 23% in 1994. And, 2/3 of everyone in the US is overweight or obese. I can almost hear the Europeans chuckling at us…

While many of us judge our bodies by how they look in a bathing suit at the beach, the article goes beyond skin deep. It reports that the cost of healthcare has doubled to $147 billion in a decade, and obesity accounts for almost 10% of that total.

Eric Finkelstein, a health economist says,

“If you really want to rein in healthcare dollars, you have to get people dieting, exercising and living a healthier lifestyle.”

Alright, we get it. The message isn’t new — it’s just that the statistics are getting worse and the unfortunate result is obesity is costing us more. People KNOW they are overweight and many want to drop some unhealthy fat and be more active, but it’s harder than just shouting from the rooftops, “Eat less and move more!” If changing behavior were that easy, we wouldn’t be in this predicament.

Here are a few tips for personal change that are less commonly known:

1. Call in a Substitute. Take one thing you consume every day (e.g., coffee creamer) and go from full fat to no fat. This little change done frequently adds up. Once you’ve made one small change, add another. Rinse and repeat.

2. Take 10: After dinner or anytime, go for a 5 minute walk (always consult your Doctor before beginning any exercise regimen). Five minutes in one direction, then turn around and head back. These 10 minutes — most if not all days of the week — will kick-start your activity program. Build from this foundation by increasing your frequency (how many times a week you walk) and duration (how long you walk). And check out a previous blog spot where I talk about how our dog Scout has helped my wife Wendy become a daily walker — after work.
Obesity Dollars and Sense

3. Tell a Friend: Ask someone you know to be your health coach. Encourage you to eat regular size portions — and try and eat smaller meals 4-5 times a day, instead of 3 big ones. More frequent eating helps regulate your blood sugar, keeps you from getting hungry, and fires up your metabolism. Use that friend for support (e.g., an exercise buddy). By the way, my wife Wendy does this for an optimal health program called Take Shape for Life (www.spreadyourwings.tsfl.com). It works, people lose weight and keep it off, and I highly recommend it!

While personal responsibility is by far the main factor in weight management — our communities can play a role — positive or negative. From the USA Today article, here are 6 steps communities can take to help prevent obesity:

1. Put schools within easy walking distance of residential areas.
2. Improve access to outdoor recreational facilities.
3. REQUIRE PHYSICAL EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS — YEA!
4. Enhance traffic safety in areas where people could be physically active.
5. Enhance infrastructure supporting walking and biking.
6. Discourage consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.

So, if you haven’t had that long, self-assessment look in the mirror yet this summer, maybe it’s time. Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to be in control of our own healthy lifestyle. If we don’t, healthcare costs will take control of us.

-Paul Rosengard