New study identifies a promising combination of school-based Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education interventions for improving student fitness

Sep 28, 2023

A recent study finds that comprehensive school-based Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education, also known as SNAP-Ed, interventions focused on improving wellness policies and increasing physical activity opportunities are associated with better student fitness. Researchers identified predominant combinations of school-based, physical activity-focused SNAP-Ed interventions and then looked at how they affected student fitness. Study data included over 442,000 fifth and seventh-grade students attending nearly 4,300 public schools in California communities with low-income in 2016-2017. Students in schools with SNAP-Ed interventions combining policy changes and improved physical activity opportunities had better cardiorespiratory fitness, as measured by VOmax. On average, these students had 1.17 mL/kg/min greater VO2max than students at schools without interventions. They also had greater VOmax compared to students in schools with any other type of intervention combination. This study suggests that focusing on both wellness policy changes and increased physical activity opportunities may have a synergistic effect and may warrant prioritization in SNAP-Ed program planning and implementation. The study, published in Preventive Medicine, was conducted by Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Gail Woodward-Lopez, Hannah Thompson, and Wendi Gosliner; Arizona State University researchers Punam Ohri-Vachaspati and Francesco Acciai; and California Department of Public Health researcher John Pugliese.

By Sridharshi Hewawitharana
Author - Research Data Analyst
By Summer Cortez
By Gail M Woodward-Lopez
By Miranda Renee Westfall
Editor - Academic Coordinator
By Danielle Lee
Editor - Director of Communications & Research Engagement