HEALTHY Armstrong Gets Results

We are committed to measuring the results of the HEALTHY Armstrong project in our community. We measure outcomes in several ways.

ASD Kids on the Move!

By Kay Detrick Owen, Project Director for HEALTHY Armstrong

Armstrong School District(ASD) kids moved 796,260 minutes in October 2008. All of this activity was part of the wellness programs which were supported by HEALTHY Armstrong.

What is exciting about this information is that our kids are increasing their levels of physical activity each year. The illustration graphically shows the increases over the last three years.

Bar Graph of Total KidMinutes for Oct 2006, Oct 2007 and Oct 2008

In October 2008, kids in ASD participated in 796,260 minutes of physical activity as part of in-school and after school activities. This was a 207,098 minute increase over October 2007.

Results for October 2009 will be available soon so stay tuned!

Congratulations ASD!!! Keep on Moving!!

Children’s knowledge about healthy eating and activity

Elementary school children took a short survey in Fall 2007 and Spring 2008. They answered questions about:

  • Nutrition knowledge: such as, “Which is healthier to eat: pretzels or potato chips?”
  • Eating habits: such as, “Yesterday, did you eat any vegetables like these or others?” with pictures of common vegetables.
  • Activity habits: such as, “Yesterday, did you do any kind of physical activity that got you breathing hard, like climbing, running, basketball, walking, skating?”

We found that by the end of the school year:

  • Children knew more about healthy snack choices;
  • Most children increased their fruit and vegetable consumption;
  • Younger boys and girls said they were spending less time watching TV.

Activity behaviors in school

Teachers have thought of many creative ways of getting children to be more physically active in school and after school. Each school has different programs. One example is Morning Announcement Exercises at West Hills Primary. Children in all the classrooms do exercises such as jumping jacks and running in place after the morning announcements. The gym teacher leads these over the public address system.

It is a hard to measure changes in physical activity among a number of schools that are all doing different things. We made up something called KidMinutes that helps us measure the amount of structured physical activity going on in the elementary schools during a specific one-month period. We multiply the number of minutes an activity lasted x how many times the activity took place x the number of children who participated each time.

Here is the KidMinutes calculation for the Morning Announcement Exercises activity:

Minutes the activity lasts: 3
How often did the activity occur that month: x 23 school days
How many participated each time: x 270
Total for this activity: 18,630 KidMinutes

Here are the changes in KidMinutes that we found from Fall 2007 to Fall 2007:

Total KidMinutes up 187,000 from 2006 to 2007 
Total KidMinutes up 187,000 from 2006 to 2007

Children’s weight compared to their peers

HEALTHY Armstrong got started after the results from the state-required weighing and measuring of school children from Fall 2005 became available. Records showed that 35% of Armstrong County grade school children were overweight (17%) or obese (18%). That overall number is higher than the national average of 30%. We would not expect the weight information from our school district to show major changes in a short period of time. The state requires that schools weigh and measure children every year. We will be tracking our county’s results over the next number of years to see if we find changes.

School cafeteria changes

Each year, the Armstrong School District food service department makes healthy improvements to the school meal programs. The program continues to reduce the total fat, saturated fat and trans fat from the menus. Deep fryers have been removed from the kitchens. Deep-fried french fries are no longer available on the menu, nor are they sold à la carte. Only 1 percent milk and skim milk are served.

During the past two years, the school district has increased the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables purchased by more than $50,000 per year. At least three kind of fresh fruit choices are offered daily. Everyday the students have a choice of a side salad in place of the vegetable of the day and entrée salads are also offered daily. In addition to the added fiber from the fresh fruits and vegetables, eighty percent of the breads and rolls served are now whole wheat.

The Armstrong School District Food Service Department consistently meets and exceeds the nutrition standards that are set by the Department of Education.

Nutrition information, including total calories, fat, protein and carbohydrates, of all meals are available on the Armstrong School District web site at www.asd.k12.pa.us under the food service department.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

During the past five years, Armstrong School District students have been increasingly choosing fresh fruits and vegetables at school breakfasts and lunches.

The numbers tell the story. In 2003, the school district purchased $61,930 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2006, that figure had more than doubled to $136,197.

Students have a choice of at least five fruits daily, three being fresh. The favorites are red grapes and kiwi. In place of the vegetable of the day, the students may take a side salad; the district prepares more than 2,000 side salads each day. Chef and Chicken salad are offered daily as an entrée and the sales continue to rise yearly. Overall, students are choosing more fresh fruits and vegetables.

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