This is an excerpt from the Live Well in Alabama FY18 Annual Report.
In FY18, Auburn University SNAP-Ed reached approximately 20,000 youth with exciting education about healthy eating and physical activity through school-based initiatives and after-school summer programs. The flagship school-based initiative was Body Quest (BQ), a multi-level, comprehensive obesity prevention initiative, which empowered Alabama’s youth to make healthier choices and engaged parents in learning and behavior change alongside their children. Body Quest began as a theory-based, technology-driven curriculum for third graders and has evolved into a statewide movement helping Alabama’s children and parents Live Well in Schools.
During the 2017-2018 school year, SNAP-Ed educators provided Body Quest to 6,580 third graders in 54 Alabama counties, 117 schools, and 346 classrooms. All schools were SNAP-Ed eligible with more than 50 percent of students receiving free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Classes included a mix of educator-led discussion, guided vegetable tasting experiences, and iPad app reinforcement lessons narrated by the anime-style Body Quest Warriors, who possess super powers from eating healthy foods. All curriculum materials were developed based on the Experiential Learning Theory to be behaviorally focused and developmentally appropriate.
A statewide impact evaluation of BQ was conducted with schools randomly assigned to a treatment or control group. Both treatment and control groups participated in self-reported pre- and post-assessments. Treatment students and parents received an intervention between assessments. Control students and parents received delayed intervention after all assessments were completed. Student assessments consisted of (1) daily food consumed offered through the NSLP during a one-week period and (2) multiple childhood obesity prevention predictors related to nutrition and physical activity. Parent assessments consisted of (1) multiple measures of behavior important to preventing obesity and (2) measures of acceptance and effectiveness of a texting program for education delivery. Data was analyzed using t-tests and chi-square tests.
Body Quest Makes a Difference
- Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: At the end of BQ, treatment students ate vegetables and fruits more times per day and ate a greater variety of vegetables and fruits compared to before BQ and compared to control students.
- Beverage Consumption: At the end of BQ, treatment students drank fewer sugary beverages and more water compared to before BQ and compared to control students. Also at the end of BQ, treatment students drank less whole milk and more low-fat milk compared to before BQ and compared to control students.
- Physical Activity: At the end of BQ, treatment students participated in physical activity more often, including more vigorous types of activity like sports and other activities that increase heart rate for at least 30 minutes, compared to before BQ and compared to control students. Also at the end of BQ, treatment students were physically active with family members more often compared to before BQ and compared to control students.
Body Quest Parents Eat Better, Move More and Make a Change
Body Quest engaged more than 5,000 parents with recipe testing activities and text message-based education. Simultaneously with BQ classes for students, parents joined the Recipe Tester Club and received a series of seven inexpensive, simple, and kid-friendly vegetable recipes to prepare and test with their children at home. Text messaging was a fun and convenient way to motivate parents to improve nutrition and physical activity practices for themselves and their families. Parents provided their cell phone numbers and received three texts each week with tips for healthy eating, shopping for healthy foods, and being physically active. In addition to receiving recipes and text messages, parents received educational materials such as BQ Family Discussion Prompts for tips on talking about health with their children and Family Activity Calendars for tracking family physical activity.
Text Messaging Engages Parents to Make a Change
At the beginning of BQ, 4,465 parents provided their cell phone numbers to receive three action-oriented, educational text messages per week. More than three-fourths (77%) of parents remained active in the texting program for the entire 15 weeks. At the end of BQ, a texting poll with participating parents (n=415) measured effectiveness of the text messages and self-reported behavior change.
Body Quest Changes Behavior
Parents completed written pre- and post-assessments measuring behavior change. Treatment parents made positive changes in three main areas important to obesity prevention and improving the home environment: (1) healthy food and beverage choices, (2) physical activity, and (3) food resource management. Significant differences (p < 0.001) were observed in treatment parents from pre- to post-assessment and compared to control parents.
- Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
- Eat vegetables and fruits more often
- Eat a greater variety of vegetables and fruits
- Beverage Consumption
- Drink more water
- Drink less whole milk
- Drink more low-fat milk
- Food Resource Management
- Read the Nutrition Facts label
- Shop with a grocery list
- Buy low-fat or fat-free dairy
- Buy foods and drinks with less sugar
- Buy foods with less salt
- Physical Activity
- Participate in more family physical activities
- BQ Text Messaging Program
- 96% enjoyed BQ texts
- 95% used tips provided in text messages
- 96% noticed their child eats more fruits and vegetables, tries new foods, or both
- 83% said their child asks them to buy vegetables
- 73% bought more fruits and vegetables
- 81% keep fewer beverages in their homes
- 88% found more ways to be active with their child
- BQ Text Messaging Program Testimonials
- “My third grader has shown more interest in cooking. He gets really excited when I let him help me peel veggies or stir something on the stove.”
- “We have started playing basketball, playing catch, and walking as a family.”
- “I have really enjoyed BQ, it has helped me and my family a lot!”
- “Water is now my daughter’s first choice for a beverage.”
Body Quest Schools Make a Change
Body Quest supported schools in making positive changes to create healthier school environments. Colorful, life-size character exhibits placed throughout the schools encouraged students to act like Body Quest Warriors and make healthy choices. Miniature, 3-D character figurines displayed on cafeteria serving lines reminded students to choose healthy foods from all Battle Groups, or food groups.
Promotional efforts were just one-way SNAP-Ed supported healthy environments in BQ schools. SNAP-Ed educators leveraged strong partnerships with 59 schools to facilitate positive changes, reaching more than 27,000 students.
SNAP-Ed partnerships with Body Quest schools resulted in implementation of 9 policy changes, 28 systems changes, 23 environmental improvements, and 94 promotional efforts.
- Policy changes established or improved school wellness policies and eliminated soft drinks at school-based day camps.
- Systems changes increased availability of fresh, local produce in school cafeterias.
- Environmental improvements established, reinvigorated, or sustained edible school gardens and improved access to safe walking and biking paths to schools.
- Promotional efforts provided tastings and signs placed throughout the school encouraging students to make healthy choices.
- Live Well in Alabama: FY18 Annual Report
- Live Well in Communities: Positive change spread across Alabama for a healthier culture.
- Live Well in Communities: Partnership with CDC
- Live Well Alabama: Making a Change with Social Marketing
- Awards, Publications, Recognitions, and Presentations