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Using School Staff Members to Implement a Childhood Obesity Prevention Intervention in Low-Income School Districts: the Massachusetts Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (MA-CORD Project), 2012-2014.

  • Author(s): Blaine, Rachel E
  • Franckle, Rebecca L
  • Ganter, Claudia
  • Falbe, Jennifer
  • Giles, Catherine
  • Criss, Shaniece
  • Kwass, Jo-Ann
  • Land, Thomas
  • Gortmaker, Steven L
  • Chuang, Emmeline
  • Davison, Kirsten K
  • MA-CORD Project Group
  • et al.
Abstract

Introduction

Although evidence-based interventions to prevent childhood obesity in school settings exist, few studies have identified factors that enhance school districts' capacity to undertake such efforts. We describe the implementation of a school-based intervention using classroom lessons based on existing "Eat Well and Keep Moving" and "Planet Health" behavior change interventions and schoolwide activities to target 5,144 children in 4th through 7th grade in 2 low-income school districts.

Methods

The intervention was part of the Massachusetts Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (MA-CORD) project, a multisector community-based intervention implemented from 2012 through 2014. Using mixed methods, we operationalized key implementation outcomes, including acceptability, adoption, appropriateness, feasibility, implementation fidelity, perceived implementation cost, reach, and sustainability.

Results

MA-CORD was adopted in 2 school districts that were facing resource limitations and competing priorities. Although strong leadership support existed in both communities at baseline, one district's staff reported less schoolwide readiness and commitment. Consequently, fewer teachers reported engaging in training, teaching lessons, or planning to sustain the lessons after MA-CORD. Interviews showed that principal and superintendent turnover, statewide testing, and teacher burnout limited implementation; passionate wellness champions in schools appeared to offset implementation barriers.

Conclusion

Future interventions should assess adoption readiness at both leadership and staff levels, offer curriculum training sessions during school hours, use school nurses or health teachers as wellness champions to support teachers, and offer incentives such as staff stipends or play equipment to encourage school participation and sustained intervention activities.

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