Project L.E.A.N.: An after -school health and exercise program for elementary school children in El Paso, Texas

Hendrik de Heer, University of Texas at El Paso


Introduction. After-school activities provide valuable opportunities for health promotion activities that do not interfere with the regular school day, especially in minority populations with higher rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes. The current study is an evaluation of an after-school health education and physical activity program conducted in nine elementary schools in 2008 in El Paso, Texas. Methods. The intervention consisted of a 10-12 week (twice a week) after school program consisting of a pilot (with two experimental schools) and main intervention (six schools each including a control and experimental group). The main outcome variables were Body Mass Index, aerobic capacity health knowledge and intentions to eat healthy. Results. Participants (n=1103) were predominantly socio-economically disadvantaged Hispanic 3rd to 5th graders. The intervention was successful in recruitment, implementation and retention of participants (82 percent retention rate). The pilot study (n=172) found a significant reduction in Body Mass Index, increased aerobic capacity, but no significant increases in health knowledge and intentions to eat healthy. In the main intervention, experimental group participants (n=323) reduced their BMI at post test, but this reduction was not significantly larger than the control group (n=608). Intervention group participants significantly increased their intentions to eat healthy foods compared to control group participants, but no differences for health knowledge were found. Discussion. While the findings in regards to changes in health indicators were modest, all findings were in the expected direction. The current project provides evidence for a strong need and desire to participate in projects that are accessible and address primary prevention of chronic diseases within a population that has a high prevalence of risk factors and limited access to care. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Behavioral|Education, Elementary|Education, Health

Recommended Citation

de Heer, Hendrik, "Project L.E.A.N.: An after -school health and exercise program for elementary school children in El Paso, Texas" (2009). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3358902.