Physical activity (PA) and nutrition knowledge is believed to be an integral part in the development of Healthy and Active Lifestyles (HAL; CDC, 1997). Results from recent studies, however, have shown that students not only have little PA and nutrition knowledge they also hold many misconceptions (Placek et al., 2001). This disconnect can be critical for all children, but especially for populations at a greater risk of developing hypokinetic diseases, such as Native American children (Goran, Ball, & Cruz, 2003). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of the first year of a school-based PA and nutrition intervention in one Southwestern USA Native American Community.
The HAL intervention involved 21 teachers and their students participating in the intervention (5 workshops and mentor teachers) or as comparison classes. It focused on students developing the skills and knowledge requisite to developing HAL by integrating lessons and PA opportunities throughout the school day. One portion of the HAL intervention focused on content knowledge related to the food and physical activity pyramids. The knowledge instrument directly assessed physical activity and food pyramid knowledge and application using parallel formats. Pilot and content validation studies were conducted resulting in food example changes. Participants in this project included 68 Native American youth in grades five through eight from both schools in the community. Cronbach alpha results showed adequate Internal Consistency Reliability (.72, .75 pre/post) on the instrument. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and ANCOVAs.
ANCOVA tests were utilized to control for pre-test differences between the intervention and comparison groups. Results showed a significant difference for total instrument F(1, 44) = 11.78, p < .05, ç = .21, pretest (m= 18.43, sd=4.5) to post test (m= 20.45, sd=4.37). Differences were found for both the physical activity F(1, 44) = 6.60, p < .02, ç = .13 and nutrition F(1, 44) = 11.78, p < .05, ç = .21 portions of the instrument; with significant knowledge and application changes for food and knowledge changes for PA.
These results support the ability of teachers' professional development experiences to positively influence students' knowledge development related to HAL. School based interventions may be able to positively influence student knowledge of PA and nutrition concepts a critical component in the development of healthy lifestyles.
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