Web-Based Wellness Policy Toolkit for Obesity Prevention in Middle Schools

Period of Performance: 09/15/2008 - 03/14/2010

$133K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Cirque Productions, LLC
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Web-Based Wellness Policy Toolkit for Obesity Prevention in Middle Schools The childhood obesity epidemic is escalating with significant adverse health and economic impact. We propose to develop and test a web-based toolkit designed to facilitate implementation of required wellness policies (WP) in middle schools as well as a commercialization strategy for underwriting the cost of the toolkit by local businesses. We will use recently collected formative data to guide this process, and conduct a pilot study to collect quantitative and qualitative data determining toolkit feasibility, acceptability, and short term impact on nutrition and physical activity behaviors as well as assessing commercialization potential. The pilot study will sample 120 students in 4 schools and will assess interest and toolkit utilization among associated teachers, parents, and school administrators/staff. Formative data will be used to guide development of 3 toolkit components: A. Social Marketing Tools: Develop and pilot test a set of video products (streaming video, DVD, podcasts) to educate key stakeholders about the WPs; sell the importance of improved nutrition and physical activity (PA) at middle schools; and motivate behavior change among a wide variety of middle school stakeholders. B. Self Monitoring TRACKER to promote good nutrition and PA: Modify and enhance an existing software program for the purpose of tracking PA and nutrition behaviors as part of Health/PE classes and creating motivational incentives such as goal setting, challenges, and friendly competition for middle school children, teachers, staff, and parents. C. Behavior and School/ Home Environment SCREENER and tailored feedback: Develop and test a brief web-based screener to assess evidence-based individual and environmental factors associated with obesity prevention and provide immediate computer tailored feedback as well as aggregated data for use by health, PE, and core academic teachers for class assignments supporting the required standard course of study. We will also collect qualitative data to develop and test a Business sponsor promotion package for use by school advocates to engage local businesses in the financial underwriting of WP toolkit, using the arguments of community involvement in the support of child health, and future health-related costs to employers of an unchecked obesity epidemic. This project addresses a critical and escalating public health problem, childhood obesity. Most schools in the US are now required to submit wellness policies to improve nutrition and physical activity but few resources exist to facilitate implementation or monitoring. Our proposed wellness policy implementation toolkit for middle schools is informed by extensive formative data and is designed to satisfy middle school curriculum requirements while promoting improved nutrition and physical activity. Our commercialization model seeks underwriting from local businesses by appealing to their sense of civic responsibility as well as concern about future business costs associated with the obesity epidemic and rising healthcare costs for employees. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: This project addresses a critical and escalating public health problem, childhood obesity. Most schools in the US are now required to submit wellness policies to improve nutrition and physical activity but few resources exist to facilitate implementation or monitoring. Our proposed wellness policy implementation toolkit for middle schools is informed by extensive formative data and is designed to satisfy middle school curriculum requirements while promoting improved nutrition and physical activity. Our commercialization model seeks underwriting from local businesses by appealing to their sense of civic responsibility as well as concern about future business costs associated with the obesity epidemic and rising healthcare costs for employees.