Impact of a park-based afterschool program replicated over five years on modifiable cardiovascular disease risk factors

Sarah E. Messiah, Denise Vidot, Eric Hansen, Jack Kardys, M. Sunil Matthew, Maria Nardi, Kristopher L. Arheart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Major challenges to the current childhood obesity epidemic include availability of prevention and/or treatment programs that are affordable and acc5essible. We evaluated the change in several modifiable, obesity-related cardiovascular disease risk factors after participation in Fit2Play™, a structured afterschool program housed in a large urban county parks system. Children ages 6–14 who participated in Fit2Play™ in one of 34 parks for one school year during a five-year period (2010–2015) had height, weight, 4-site skinfold thicknesses, systolic/diastolic blood pressure (SBP/DBP), fitness tests, and a health/wellness behavior/knowledge test collected at the beginning and end of the school year. Comparison of pre/post outcome measures were assessed via general linear mixed models for normal weight, overweight, and obese participants and both aggregate and cohort/year-specific results were generated. Aggregate (N = 1546, 51% Hispanic, 44% NHB) results showed after one year of participation (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2016) both the obese and overweight groups significantly decreased their mean body mass index (BMI) percentile (98th to 95th percentile, p < 0.001; 91st percentile to 89th percentile, p < 0.001, respectively); (Ogden et al. 2015) the normal weight group maintained a healthy BMI percentile (54.6th); (Ogden et al., 2014) mean SBP and DBP significantly decreased (3.6 percentile and 6 percentile points, respectively, p < 0.001 for both). Mean number of sit-ups, push-ups, 400 meter run time, and nutrition knowledge scores improved in all participants (p < 0.001 for all). These findings suggest that parks-based afterschool health/wellness programs can be a low-cost, high value tool in both preventing and treating the current childhood obesity epidemic and among high-risk groups in particular.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-73
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive medicine
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Childhood
  • Community-based
  • Ethnicity
  • Obesity
  • Park
  • Prevention
  • Replication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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