Our Research

Project Healthy Schools (PHS) includes a research component designed to study the program’s effects on lifestyle, markers of cardiovascular risk, and obesity. Data from behavioral questionnaires and optional health screenings show important improvements in middle school students’ self-reported health behaviors and physiologic measures. A presentation summarizing 10 years of PHS research is available here.

Results to Date

Over 63,000 sixth graders in 85 schools in Michigan have participated in the program. Of these students, over 21,200 have been part of our research, including 3,000 students who participated in optional health screenings. Research results demonstrate that this program has improved the health of the students it has reached.

  • 71% of students indicate, by standardized questionnaire, that they are changing their behaviors in a favorable way.
  • Behavioral highlights from post-program survey results from the 2014-2015 school year show that students increased fruit and vegetable consumption; decreased sweets and chocolate consumption; decreased TV and video game screen time; and increased vigorous, moderate and muscle-strengthening exercise and sports participation.
  • Physiologic screenings show improvements in measures such as serum cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglyceride levels, blood sugar, and measures of fitness.
  • Low/middle income communities’ children are at higher risk based on obesity rates and physiologic measures, but appear to benefit even more from the program.
  • Among all schools, children at highest risk, based on risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol, seem to get the most benefit.
  • Benefits appear to be sustained, not just after the five-month intervention, but also at the end of years one, two and three post-PHS.

These graphs demonstrate the sustained benefit of PHS in both the physiological (n=889) and behavioral (n=740) measures of Ann Arbor students over four years post-PHS intervention.

Physiological measurements over four years

Behavior measurements over four years

These graphs demonstrate the sustained improvement in cardiovascular risk factors post-PHS intervention in students from both Ann Arbor, an affluent community, and Ypsilanti, a more diverse, lower socioeconomic community.

Sustainability Ann Arbor

Sustainability Ypsilanti

Please contact us if you would like more information.

Presentations and Publications

Below is a list of PHS articles published in peer reviewed journals since 2012.

PHS has presented eight abstracts at state and national conferences in 2017. The abstracts include:

  • Influencing School Wellness Culture: Tools and Strategies from Project Healthy Schools. 2017 SHAPE Michigan State Convention/ Lansing, MI, October 27 (Oral).
  • Project Healthy Schools: Creating a Culture to Change the Health of Michigan Middle School Students. Great Lakes Chapter of the Society for Public Health Education/ Grand Rapids, MI, October (Oral).
  • Keeping Student Health Relevant in Schools. 2017 ASHA Annual School Health Conference: Connecting Health and Learning/ St. Louis, MO, October (Roundtable).
  • Project Healthy Schools: The Impact of Family Engagement in Reducing Childhood Obesity and Its Long-Term Health Risks. 2017 RoBUST Fall Symposium/ Wayne State, Detroit, MI, September (Oral). A poster was also presented at the 2017 Global Health Symposium in Detroit, MI in October, the Graduate Student Research Day at Wayne State University in October, and the Adolescent Health Initiative 2018 Conference on Adolescent Health in Ypsilanti in April.
  • Cardiovascular Risk Reduction through School and Community Partnerships. 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition/ Chicago, IL, September (Roundtable).
  • Classroom-Based Physical Activity Intervention. Connecting with Kids Through School Health/ Boyne Falls, MI, June (Oral).
  • Project Healthy Schools: Taking Assessment into Action. Connecting with Kids Through School Healthy/ Boyne Falls, MI, June (Oral).
  • Parental Influences on Children's Healthy Behaviors. American Heart Association- Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions/ Portland, OR, March 8 (Poster). (Poster was also presented at the Adolescent Health Initiative 2017 Conference on Adolescent Health in Ypsilanti on 4.25.17).

Please contact us if you would like a complete list.