RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE


Quality out-of school-time programs provide kids with a safe and healthy environment. Efforts are in progress to make sure that kids are getting active and eating healthy in these programs. Click here to find:

  • The latest research on improving healthy eating within out-of-school time environments
  • Current reviews of policies and commentary to make these changes happen

Healthy Eating Research

U.S. children consume large amounts of high-calorie foods and sugary beverages and less than recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Out of school time programs have a unique opportunity to improve the dietary habits of children given that meals and snacks provided in these programs contribute up to one-fifth of a child’s daily dietary intake.

Many afterschool and summer day camp programs struggle to meet Healthy Eating guidelines. Community partnerships are proven to help afterschool programs serve healthy snacks that meet guidelines, while remaining within snack budgets.

Programs that do not serve meals or snacks have an additional challenge in meeting healthy eating guidelines. Incentive based programs encouraging children to pack healthy lunchboxes for summer day camp have resulted in increases in the amounts of fruits, vegetables, and water brought to camp and decreases in salty and sweet foods.


Physical Activity Research

With decreased opportunities for physical activity in schools across the nation, out of school time programs are an ideal setting to get kids moving. A common misconception is that children get adequate amounts of physical activity through games traditionally offered in out of school time programs (kickball, tag games).

Studies show that children are not achieving activity levels that meet recommendations. Early interventions within afterschool programs have increased physical activity levels; however, it is unclear if programmatic changes and activity levels are sustained once the intervention ends. Providing staff with the skills necessary to create an environment that promotes physical activity can result in meaningful increases in children meeting guidelines.