Obesity, Diet, and Activity

School & Community Influences


Research indicates that sport participation and active commuting to school would significantly decrease obesity prevalence in adolescents.

Identifying the most effective forms of physical activity is of utmost concern in the battle against rising obesity rates in youth. Prior research has shown that sport participation and active commuting to school may be worth targeting, but until recently, very little evidence had demonstrated the extent to which these forms of physical activity affect overweight and obesity status in adolescents. This study aimed to more accurately estimate the influence of sport participation and active commuting to school on adolescent BMI.


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Family fast food intake is related to townwide exposure to fast food outlets, and the influence is strongest among those with low access to transportation.

Individual and environmental influences both play major roles in shaping our dietary behavior. Adolescents and adults have a high intake of fast food, but the evidence linking exposure to fast food outlets and fast food intake has been mixed, and has been conducted primarily in urban areas. Research is needed which examines specific household characterisitcs that may alter the frequency with which individuals purchase foods from neighborhood outlets. This study examined the complex interplay between in-topwn fast food outlets and adolescents' and parents' fast food intake in non-metropolitan areas.

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Gabriel's Kitchen and Honeybee Market studies: Using marketing techniques to promote healthy foods to children.

Gabriel's Kitchen study

Honeybee Market study


"Keeping students healthy: Promoting physical activity and healthy eating in NH and VT schools," conference.

The Community Health Research Program hosted a conference on Friday, May 8, 2009 at the Courtyard by Marriott, Lebanon NH. Attendees at the conference included schools participating in the ReelTalk ACT II school assessments and community organizations and health professionals concerned about school wellness.

Honored guest speakers included Dr. Wendy Davis, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health and Professor of Pediatrics, University of Vermont College of Medicine; Dr. Susan Lynch, New Hampshire's First Lady and a pediatrician with expertise in the prevention of childhood obesity, and Dr. Jose´ Montero, Director of the Division of Public Health Services within the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition to attending informational sessions participants had an opportunity to communicate directly with New Hampshire and Vermont state-wide organizations responsible for public health interventions and grant making in the area of adolescent physical activity, nutrition, and overweight.

The ReelTalk ACT II study is a longitudinal research project funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to examine factors related to adolescents' physical activity and diet in three environments, the family, the school, and the community with a specific focus on rural settings.

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Conference schedule

Morning Presentations

ACT II Overview by Madeline Dalton, PhD

Overview of Childhood Obesity by Susan Lynch, MD

Highlights from VT by Wendy Davis, MD., VT Commissioner of Health

Highlights from NH by Jose Montero, MD, Director, NH Division of Public Health Services


ReelTalk Act II Study, Initial Findings

Community Assessments by Lucy Gibson, MS, Smart Mobility Inc

Telephone Surveys by Anna Adachi Mejia, PhD

School Assessments by Meghan Longacre_PhD

The ACT II Study: A Report of Initial Findings for New Hampshire and Vermont Schools and Communities, April 2009.

Afternoon Presentations

School Panel Discussions: Responding to the Local Wellness Policy Mandate

Windsor VT School District Wellness Initiative by Brenda Needham, MS, Superintendent

Portsmouth NH School District Wellness Initiative by Robert Lister, PhD, Superintendent

Washington West VT School District Wellness Initiative by Linda King, BS, School Nurse, and Sue Dillon, BS, School Nurse

Laconia NH High School Wellness Initiative by Craig Kozens, BS, Wellness Coordinator

Funding Opportunities & Other Resources for Supporting School Wellness: Panel Discussion

Resources to Support School Wellness by Shawn LaFrance, MPH, Executive Director, Foundation for Healthy Communities

Linking Health and Learning by Lindsay Simpson, BS, PE Consultant, VT Dept of Education

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Influences on Adolescent Physical Activity and Diet.

Through funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health, we are examining the influence of school and community influences on adolescent physical activity and diet through a telephone survey with over 2500 families in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Supermarket Nutrition Navigation System Launched.

Guiding Stars features a symbol of a figure with one, two or three stars, on food shelf tags in the supermarket. One star is good nutritional value; two stars is better nutritional value; three stars is best nutritional value.

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