Setting: School

Strategy Report: Active School Day

School children stretching up at lesson

The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose.

Overview

CHOICES uses cost-effectiveness analysis to compare the costs and outcomes of different policies and programs promoting improved nutrition or increased physical activity in schools, early care and education and out-of-school settings, communities, and clinics. This strategy report describes the projected national population reach, impact on health and health equity, implementation costs, and cost-effectiveness for an effective strategy to improve child health. This information can help inform decision-making around promoting healthy weight. To explore and compare additional strategies, visit the CHOICES National Action Kit 2.0.

Continue reading in the full report.

Contact choicesproject@hsph.harvard.edu for an accessible version of this report.

Suggested Citation

CHOICES National Action Kit: Active School Day Strategy Report. CHOICES Project Team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; December 2023.

The design for this report and its graphics were developed by Molly Garrone, MA and partners at Burness.

Funding

This work is supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01HL146625), The JPB Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U48DP006376). The findings and conclusions are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other funders. The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose

For further information, contact choicesproject@hsph.harvard.edu

Strategy Report: Movement Breaks in the Classroom

Teacher leading a movement break in the classroom with young kids

The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose.

Overview

CHOICES uses cost-effectiveness analysis to compare the costs and outcomes of different policies and programs promoting improved nutrition or increased physical activity in schools, early care and education and out-of-school settings, communities, and clinics. This strategy report describes the projected national population reach, impact on health and health equity, implementation costs, and cost-effectiveness for an effective strategy to improve child health. This information can help inform decision-making around promoting healthy weight. To explore and compare additional strategies, visit the CHOICES National Action Kit 2.0.

Continue reading in the full report.

Contact choicesproject@hsph.harvard.edu for an accessible version of this report.

Suggested Citation

CHOICES National Action Kit: Movement Breaks in the Classroom Strategy Report. CHOICES Project Team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; December 2023.

The design for this report and its graphics were developed by Molly Garrone, MA and partners at Burness.

Funding

This work is supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01HL146625), The JPB Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U48DP006376). The findings and conclusions are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other funders. The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose

For further information, contact choicesproject@hsph.harvard.edu

Strategy Report: Active Physical Education

A diverse group of children playing basketball.

The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose.

Overview

CHOICES uses cost-effectiveness analysis to compare the costs and outcomes of different policies and programs promoting improved nutrition or increased physical activity in schools, early care and education and out-of-school settings, communities, and clinics. This strategy report describes the projected national population reach, impact on health and health equity, implementation costs, and cost-effectiveness for an effective strategy to improve child health. This information can help inform decision-making around promoting healthy weight. To explore and compare additional strategies, visit the CHOICES National Action Kit 2.0.

Continue reading in the full report.

Contact choicesproject@hsph.harvard.edu for an accessible version of this report.

Suggested Citation

CHOICES National Action Kit: Active Physical Education Strategy Report. CHOICES Project Team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; December 2023.

The design for this report and its graphics were developed by Molly Garrone, MA and partners at Burness.

Funding

This work is supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01HL146625), The JPB Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U48DP006376). The findings and conclusions are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other funders. The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose

For further information, contact choicesproject@hsph.harvard.edu

Strategy Report: Active Recess

Children running outside during recess at school

The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose.

Overview

CHOICES uses cost-effectiveness analysis to compare the costs and outcomes of different policies and programs promoting improved nutrition or increased physical activity in schools, early care and education and out-of-school settings, communities, and clinics. This strategy report describes the projected national population reach, impact on health and health equity, implementation costs, and cost-effectiveness for an effective strategy to improve child health. This information can help inform decision-making around promoting healthy weight. To explore and compare additional strategies, visit the CHOICES National Action Kit 2.0.

Continue reading in the full report.

Contact choicesproject@hsph.harvard.edu for an accessible version of this report.

Suggested Citation

CHOICES National Action Kit: Active Recess Strategy Report. CHOICES Project Team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; November 2023.

The design for this report and its graphics were developed by Molly Garrone, MA and partners at Burness.

Funding

This work is supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01HL146625), The JPB Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U48DP006376). The findings and conclusions are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other funders. The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose

For further information, contact choicesproject@hsph.harvard.edu

Strategy Report: Promoting Water Consumption in Schools

Water dispenser in a school

The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose.

Overview

CHOICES uses cost-effectiveness analysis to compare the costs and outcomes of different policies and programs promoting improved nutrition or increased physical activity in schools, early care and education and out-of-school settings, communities, and clinics. This strategy report describes the projected national population reach, impact on health and health equity, implementation costs, and cost-effectiveness for an effective strategy to improve child health. This information can help inform decision-making around promoting healthy weight. To explore and compare additional strategies, visit the CHOICES National Action Kit 2.0.

Continue reading in the full report.

Contact choicesproject@hsph.harvard.edu for an accessible version of this report.

Suggested Citation

CHOICES National Action Kit: Promoting Water Consumption in Schools Strategy Report. CHOICES Project Team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; November 2023.

The design for this report and its graphics were developed by Molly Garrone, MA and partners at Burness.

Funding

This work is supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01HL146625), The JPB Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U48DP006376). The findings and conclusions are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other funders. The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose

For further information, contact choicesproject@hsph.harvard.edu

Strategy Profile: Active School Day

The information in this resource is intended only to provide educational information. This profile describes the estimated benefits, activities, resources, and leadership needed to implement a strategy to improve child health. This information can be useful for planning and prioritization purposes.

  • Policy requiring schools to provide opportunities for students to participate in physical activity during the school day for at least 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week.

What population benefits?

Children in grades K-8 (ages 5-14).

What are the estimated benefits?

Relative to not implementing the strategy
Increase students’ moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels and, in turn, promote healthy weight.

What activities and resources are needed?

Activities Resources Who Leads?
Coordinate and support implementation of the active school day policy • Time for school health and wellness staff (Director, Assistant Director, Physical Education Director, Coordinators, and business office staff) to provide support School district
Train Wellness Champions, physical education teachers, and lunch monitors in physical activity promotion • Time for training consultant to train physical education teachers, Wellness Champions, and lunch monitors
• Time for Wellness Champions to attend trainings on policy and implementation strategies (either recess or movement breaks in the classroom)
• Time for physical education teachers to attend training on quality PE strategies
• Time for lunch monitors to attend trainings on recess strategies (in schools implementing recess strategies)
• Travel costs for lunch monitors to attend trainings
• Cost of space rental, food, and promotional flyers for trainings
School district
Develop and maintain materials to support implementation • Cost to develop an online portal or printed materials to support implementation
• Cost to maintain the online portal or replace printed materials in subsequent years
School
Implement strategies that promote physical activity in schools • Time for Wellness Champions and instructional coaches to lead implementation of strategies promoting physical activity
• Time for Wellness Champions and school principals to review performance on strategy implementation
School district
Purchase equipment and materials for a more active school day • Cost of equipment and curricula for promoting physical activity in physical education and in recess or the classroom School district

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Cradock AL, Barrett JL, Kenney EL, Giles CM, Ward ZJ, Long MW, Resch SC, Pipito AA, Wei ER, Gortmaker SL. Using cost-effectiveness analysis to prioritize policy and programmatic approaches to physical activity promotion and obesity prevention in childhood. Prev Med. 2017 Feb;95 Suppl: S17-S27. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.10.017. Supplemental Appendix with strategy details available at: https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1- s2.0-S0091743516303395-mmc1.docx


Suggested Citation

CHOICES Strategy Profile: Active School Day. CHOICES Project Team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; December 2023.

Funding

This work is supported by The JPB Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U48DP006376). The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose. The findings and conclusions are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other funders.

Adapted from the TIDieR (Template for Intervention Description and Replication) Checklist

©2015 President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. The CHOICES name, acronym and logo are marks of the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Exploring the Cost-Effectiveness of Strategies to Improve Child Health in Boston, MA

The information in this brief is intended only to provide educational information.

The CHOICES Project at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) worked together as part of the Massachusetts-CHOICES Project (2019 – 2024), a training, technical assistance, and modeling initiative, to develop a playbook of strategies to promote healthy weight and advance health equity in addition to studying how cost-effectiveness metrics are used by partners throughout the state.

Methods & Strategies Modeled

CHOICES cost-effectiveness analysis examines: How many and what types of people would be affected by the policy or program? What the effect of the policy or program would be on health? What will be the implementation costs and the potential health care cost savings? How could the policy or program reduce health disparities and improve health equity?CHOICES uses cost-effectiveness analysis to compare the costs and outcomes of different policies and programs promoting improved nutrition or increased physical activity in schools, early care and education and out-of-school settings, communities, and clinics.

Using CHOICES cost-effectiveness analysis and local data, the BPHC team worked with CHOICES to create a virtual population that mirrors the current population of Boston, MA. Then, the teams examined the expected costs, health outcomes, and health care costs saved if the following strategies were implemented in Boston, Massachusetts over a 10-year timeframe (2020-2029):

Reducing Screen Time in Early Child Care Settings
More Movement Program in Early Child Care Settings
Home Visits to Reduce Screen Time
Movement Breaks in the Classroom
Creating Healthier Afterschool Environments (OSNAP)

Reducing Screen Time in Early Child Care Settings

The strategy to reduce screen time in early child care settings involves providing voluntary training to early child care educators and resources to families to limit noneducational television time at child care and home. This strategy could support Boston’s efforts to improve early child care quality through the Boston Healthy Child Care Initiative. It would include training opportunities for early child care educators, offering ongoing support and technical assistance, and providing parents with educational materials that may lead to reducing screen time in young children.1,2

Helping educators to implement practices shown to be effective in reducing television time can help the children in Boston’s early education and care settings engage in fewer minutes of screen time.

Implementing a strategy to reduce screen time in early child care settings is an investment in the future. By the end of 2029: 18,200 children reached over 10 years; 33 fewer minutes of screen time per child per day; $16 per child per year

Additional Key Findings

If a strategy to reduce screen time in early child care settings was implemented in Boston, 125 cases of obesity would be prevented in 2029, saving $138,000 in health care costs over 10 years.

In addition, this strategy would train and provide technical assistance to early childhood educators on reducing screen time. In the initial training series, this strategy would provide additional skills training and professional development for 1,380 educators and more opportunities to reduce screen time in 570 (100%) child care programs serving 3-5 year olds.

To learn more about this strategy, read the research brief.

References

1. Mendoza JA, Baranowski T, Jaramillo S, et al. Fit 5 Kids TV Reduction Program for Latino Preschoolers: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2016;50(5):584-592.<
2. Dennison BA, Russo TJ, Burdick PA, Jenkins PL. An intervention to reduce television viewing by preschool children. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 2004;158(2):170-176.

More Movement Program in Early Child Care Settings

The more movement program provides training opportunities and resources for early child care educators to implement actions in their programs to encourage physical activity. This strategy could support Boston’s efforts to improve early child care quality through the Boston Healthy Child Care Initiative. It would include training opportunities for early child care educators in physical activity curricula, provide resources and instructional materials, and support technical assistance opportunities that may lead to higher physical activity levels among young children.1,2

Helping educators implement practices shown to be effective in increasing physical activity can help the children in Boston’s early education and care settings to move more.

Implementing the more movement program in early child care settings is an investment in the future. By the end of 2029: 18,200 children reached over 10 years; 7.4 additional minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per child per day; $16 per child per year

Additional Key Findings

If the more movement program in early child care settings was implemented in Boston, 94 cases of obesity would be prevented in 2029, saving $104,000 in health care costs over 10 years. Besides promoting a healthy weight, increasing physical activity is linked to improved bone and muscular health and better gross motor skills in young children.3-5

In addition, this strategy would train and provide technical assistance to early childhood educators. In the initial training series, the more movement program would provide additional skills training and professional development for 1,380 educators and more physical activity promotion opportunities in 570 (100%) child care programs serving 3-5 year olds.

To learn more about this strategy, read the research brief.

References

1. Fitzgibbon ML, Stolley MR, Schiffer LA, et al. Hip-Hop to Health Jr. Obesity Prevention Effectiveness Trial: Postintervention Results. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011;19(5):994-1003.
2. Kong A, Buscemi J, Stolley MR, Schiffer LA, Kim Y, Braunschweig CL, Gomez-Perez SL, Blumstein LB, Van Horn L, Dyer AR, Fitzgibbon ML. Hip-Hop to Health Jr. Randomized Effectiveness Trial: 1-Year Follow-up Results. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2016 Feb;50(2):136-44.
3. U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services; 2018. Accessed Jul 23, 2021. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf
4. Pate RR, Hillman CH, Janz KF, et al. Physical Activity and Health in Children Younger than 6 Years: A Systematic Review. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 06 2019;51(6):1282-1291.
5. Timmons BW, Leblanc AG, Carson V, et al. Systematic review of physical activity and health in the early years (aged 0-4 years). Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. Aug 2012;37(4):773-92.

Home Visits to Reduce Screen Time

The home visits to reduce screen time strategy aims to reduce the amount of screen time viewed at home by young children. Community health workers would provide counseling and resources on strategies to limit children’s screen time to children and families who participate in home visiting programs.

Through professional development training opportunities, community health workers would learn ways to support families and children in limiting their screen time. During a home visit, community health workers would share the importance of appropriate screen time limits and provide strategies and tools for families to use, including a screen time management device. Integrating this strategy through existing home visiting programs could help more children manage their screen time and grow up at a healthy weight.1Implementing the home visits to reduce screen time strategy is an investment in the future. By the end of 2029: 3,320 children reached over 10 years; 1.8 fewer hours of screen time per child per day; $44,600 saved in health care costs over 10 years

Additional Key Findings

If the home visits to reduce screen time strategy was implemented in Boston, 60 cases of childhood obesity would be prevented in 2029. Besides promoting a healthy weight, this strategy may also benefit children in other ways. Providing children and their families with strategies to move away from their screens allows for more time for activities like reading and active play.

By training and equipping 119 community health workers annually by ensuring that everyone has access to what they need to grow up healthy and strong, this strategy could help reach those families and children that may be at higher risk of having or developing obesity. Children in households with low income could see greater health benefits from this strategy.1

To learn more about this strategy, read the research brief.

References

1. Epstein LH, Roemmich JN, Robinson JL, et al. A randomized trial of the effects of reducing television viewing and computer use on body mass index in young children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Mar 2008;162(3):239-45. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2007.45

Movement Breaks in the Classroom

Movement breaks in the classroom is a strategy to promote physical activity during the school day by incorporating five-to-10-minute movement breaks in K-5 public elementary school classrooms. To implement the movement breaks strategy in Boston, teachers, Wellness Champions, and staff would receive training, equipment, and materials to incorporate short activity breaks in the classroom to help children move more.1,2

This aligns with Boston Public School’s (BPS) Physical Education and Physical Activity Policy that requires schools to offer physical activity opportunities during the school day,3 as well as BPS’ Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child approach, which supports students’ holistic health by promoting positive classroom environments that foster physical activity and learning.

Implementing movement breaks in the classroom is an investment in the future. By the end of 2029: 29,400 students reached over 10 years; 25 additional minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per student per school week; $1.74 per child per year

Additional Key Findings

If movement breaks were incorporated into classrooms in Boston, 37 cases of childhood obesity would be prevented in 2029 and save $35,300 in health care costs related to excess weight over 10 years.

By training and equipping over 600 teachers and other school staff yearly to incorporate movement breaks in the classroom, this strategy could help all Boston Public Schools cultivate a positive school climate and improve social emotional learning.4 Participation in movement breaks are associated with students spending more time on task,5 and teachers report that students are more engaged, supportive of each other, and responsive to teacher instructions after participating in a movement break.6

To learn more about this strategy, read the research brief.

References

1. Erwin HE, Beighle A, Morgan CF, Noland M. Effect of a low-cost, teacher-directed classroom intervention on elementary students’ physical activity. J Sch Health. 2011;81(8):455-461.
2. Murtagh E, Mulvihill M, Markey O. Bizzy Break! The effect of a classroom-based activity break on in-school physical activity levels of primary school children. Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2013;25(2):300-307.
3. Boston Public Schools. Physical Education & Physical Activity Policy. 2020:8. Superintendent’s Circular. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rSGwpFaa4LsPKxjhdsHxz2IaXg3ZFVtE/view?usp=embed_facebook
4. School-Based Physical Activity Improves the Social and Emotional Climate for Learning. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,. Accessed March 9, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/school_based_pa_se_sel.htm
5. The Community Preventive Services Task Force. Physical Activity: Classroom-based Physical Activity Break Interventions. The Community Guide. 2021:8.
Campbell AL, Lassiter JW. Teacher perceptions of facilitators and barriers to implementing classroom physical activity breaks. J Educ Res. 2020;113(2):108-119

 

Creating Healthier Afterschool Environments (OSNAP)

The Out of School Nutrition and Physical Activity (OSNAP) initiative helps afterschool programs improve practices and policies that increase physical activity and consumption of healthy snacks.

To implement this initiative, the Boston Public Health Commission would provide professional development opportunities for afterschool program leaders serving students in grades K-5. Afterschool staff leaders would participate in three learning collaborative sessions and receive technical assistance to assess1 and modify their programs’ practices and policies2  to meet the OSNAP nutrition and physical activity goals.

Creating healthier afterschool environments is an investment in the future. By the end of 2029: 10,800 children reached over 10 years; $34,100 saved in health care costs in 2029; $18.30 per child per year

Additional Key Findings

If the OSNAP initiative was implemented in Boston, 37 cases of obesity would be prevented in 2029. It is also projected to be cost-effective at commonly accepted thresholds3 based on net population health improvement related to excess weight ($72,100 per quality-adjusted life year gained).

This strategy may also support children’s health in a variety of other ways. Regular physical activity, healthy eating, and adequate hydration can improve children’s mental and emotional well-being and their heart, lung, and bone health.4 These healthy behaviors can also strengthen students’ attention, memory,5,6 and cognitive functioning,5 all important components for learning and academic performance.

To learn more about this strategy, read the research brief.

References

1. Lee RM, Emmons KM, Okechukwu CA, Barrett JL, Kenney EL, Cradock AL, Giles CM, deBlois ME, Gortmaker SL. Validity of a practitioner-administered observational tool to measure physical activity, nutrition, and screen time in school-age programs. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2014 Nov 28;11:145. doi: 10.1186/s12966-014-0145-5.
2. Kenney EL, Giles CM, deBlois ME, Gortmaker SL, Chinfatt S, Cradock AL. Improving nutrition and physical activity policies in afterschool programs: results from a group-randomized controlled trial. Prev Med. 2014;66:159-166. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.06.011
3. Neumann PJ, Cohen JT, Weinstein MC. Updating cost-effectiveness–the curious resilience of the $50,000-per-QALY threshold. New England Journal of Medicine. 2014 Aug 28;371(9):796-7. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1405158. PMID: 25162885.
4. Health Benefits of Physical Activity for Children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/health-benefits-of-physical-activity-for-children.html. Published Jan 12, 2022. Updated 2022-01-12T05:06:09Z. Accessed Dec 7, 2022.
5. Childhood Nutrition Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/facts.htm. Published 2022. Updated 2022-08-05T03:49:26Z. Accessed Dec 12, 2022.
6. Blanding N. Afterschool Programs in Boston, MA, Expand Opportunities for Obesity Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2016. http://nccd.cdc.gov/nccdsuccessstories


The design for this brief and its graphics were developed by Molly Garrone, MA and partners at Burness.

This document was developed at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health through the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES) Learning Collaborative Partnership. This document is intended for educational use only. This work is supported by The JPB Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U48DP006376). The findings and conclusions are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other funders.


Explore and compare these strategies and more using the CHOICES National Action Kit 2.0!

Strategy Profile: Promoting Water Consumption in Schools

School-aged girl drinking water from a reusable water bottle

The information in this resource is intended only to provide educational information. This profile describes the estimated benefits, activities, resources, and leadership needed to implement a strategy to improve child health. This information can be useful for planning and prioritization purposes.

  • Promoting increased water consumption among elementary and middle school students (grades K-8) with the installation of chilled drinking water dispensers in school cafeterias with viable plumbing in schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program.

What population benefits?

Children in grades K-8 attending schools with viable plumbing that participate in the National School Lunch Program.

What are the estimated benefits?

Relative to not implementing the strategy
Increase the availability of safe, free drinking water in schools. In turn, this would increase child water consumption and promote healthy child weight.

What activities and resources are needed?

Activities Resources Who Leads?
Purchase and install chilled water dispensers • Staffing resources necessary for installing water dispensers
• Costs associated with purchasing water dispensers
School personnel
Deliver training to school food service directors in cleaning and maintaining the chilled water dispensers • Time to develop online training and materials
• Time for food service directors to access and attend online training
School district food service staff
Maintain and clean water dispensers • Time for food service staff to clean water dispensers
• Cost of water dispenser filter replacement
• Time for food service staff to replace filters
School food service staff
Increase utilities and disposable cup usage • Cost of incremental increase in water and electricity usage
• Cost of increased disposable cup usage
Schools
Test lead levels in drinking water and remediate issues • Cost of lead testing and remediation for school drinking water Schools
Conduct administrative review related to drinking water • Time for the school district food service director to participate in administrative review
• Time for the National School Lunch Program administrator to conduct administrative review
State government
Strategy Modification

Some state and local health agencies added to this strategy the costs of developing and disseminating educational materials on water consumption to further encourage water consumption among students. This would require additional time to develop and disseminate the educational materials and the additional cost of the educational materials.


FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Kenney EL, Cradock AL, Long MW, Barrett JL, Giles CM, Ward ZJ, Gortmaker SL. CostEffectiveness of Water Promotion Strategies in Schools for Preventing Childhood Obesity and Increasing Water Intake. Obesity. 2019;27(12):2037-2045. doi:10.1002/oby.22615.

Selected CHOICES research brief including cost-effectiveness metrics:
Gouck J, Whetstone L, Walter C, Pugliese J, Kurtz C, Seavey-Hultquist J, Barrett J, McCulloch S, Reiner J, Cradock AL. California: Improving Drinking Water Equity and Access in California Schools {Issue Brief}. California Department of Public Health, Sacramento, CA, the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department, San Jose, CA, and the CHOICES Learning Collaborative Partnership at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; December 2021. Available at: https://choicesproject.org/publications/brief-water-schools-california

McCulloch SM, Barrett JL, Reiner JF, Cradock AL. Massachusetts: Water Dispensers in Schools {Issue Brief}. The CHOICES Learning Collaborative Partnership at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; June 2023. Available at: https://choicesproject.org/publications/brief-water-dispensers-ma


Suggested Citation

CHOICES Strategy Profile: Promoting Water Consumption in Schools. CHOICES Project Team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; April 2022; revised August 2023.

Funding

This work is supported by The JPB Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U48DP006376). The information provided here is intended to be used for educational purposes. Links to other resources and websites are intended to provide additional information aligned with this educational purpose. The findings and conclusions are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other funders.

Adapted from the TIDieR (Template for Intervention Description and Replication) Checklist

©2015 President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. The CHOICES name, acronym and logo are marks of the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Brief: Water Dispensers in Massachusetts Schools

Water fountain and filling station on a wall in a school

The information in this brief is intended only to provide educational information.

This brief summarizes a CHOICES Learning Collaborative Partnership model examining a strategy to improve access to drinking water in schools in Massachusetts. This strategy involves the installation of touchless chilled water dispensers on or near school cafeteria lunch lines in K-8 public schools with adequate plumbing.

The Issue

All students should have access to safe, clean, and appealing drinking water, no matter where they go to school. Yet, nearly half of K-8 public schools in Massachusetts have identified elevated concentrations of lead in their drinking water and need to improve their drinking water infrastructure.1

Providing access to appealing drinking water gives students a healthier alternative to sugary drinks, like sweetened fruit drinks, sports drinks, and soda. In 2021, most adolescents in Massachusetts reported consuming sugary drinks,2 which has been linked to excess weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.3,4 Students drink more water when schools provide access to water at lunch at no charge,5 and improving school water access may help kids grow up at a healthy weight.6,7 Creating a healthy, equitable school environment with appealing drinking water access can help set children up for a healthy future.

About the Water Dispensers in Schools Strategy

This strategy applied an equity lens to increasing water access by installing touchless water dispensers on or near school cafeteria lunch lines in K-8 Massachusetts public schools with identified needs. Priority schools would be those with elevated concentrations of lead in drinking water documented via state lead testing programs1 and located in cities and towns with Environmental Justice designation based on the community’s share of households with lower incomes, limited English proficiency, or individuals identifying as Black, Indigenous, or people of color.8 Better drinking water access in schools has been shown to increase water intake and may help promote a healthy weight.6 The Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Elementary and Secondary Education would provide outreach to school districts to encourage the installation of water dispensers through existing relationships. Putting this strategy into place would require resources for administering the program, installing and maintaining dispensers, utility costs, disposable cup provision, and lead testing and remediation.

Comparing Costs and Outcomes

A CHOICES cost-effectiveness analysis compared the costs and outcomes of installing touchless water dispensers in schools with the costs and outcomes associated with not implementing the voluntary water equity and access program over 10 years (2020-2029).

The installation of touchless water dispensers in schools in Massachusetts is an investment in a more equitable future. By the end of 2029:
If touchless water dispensers were installed in schools in Massachusetts, then by the end of 2029, 265,000 students would be reached with improved access to safe drinking water in schools over 10 years and 129,000 of these students would be Black and Latinx students. This intervention would only cost $9 per student per year to implement.

Conclusions and Implications

Installing water dispensers in K-8 public schools is an effective strategy for increasing access to clean and appealing drinking water, and over 10 years, it could improve drinking water access for 265,000 students in 304 schools in Massachusetts. Adequate water consumption can support well-being and cognitive function.9 Fluoridated water intake also prevents dental caries.10 Such preventive strategies play a critical role in promoting child health. This strategy is also projected to prevent 525 cases of childhood obesity in 2029 and cost, on average, $9 per child to implement each year. It is likely to be cost-effective at commonly accepted thresholds11 based on net cost per population health improvement related to excess weight, at a cost of $72,700 per quality-adjusted life year gained.

In Massachusetts, schools that participate in the state’s drinking water lead testing program are eligible to receive funding to install water dispensers.12 Expanding participation in this opportunity for drinking water testing and fixture installation would provide students and staff with better access to more appealing drinking water. Additionally, the proposed outreach strategy would prioritize installing water dispensers in schools that identify elevated concentrations of lead in their drinking water and in school districts located in communities meeting criteria for Environmental Justice designation.8 Because these communities have a higher proportion of residents who identify as people of color or households with low income, this strategy could promote health equity. Fifty percent of the students that would gain access to improved drinking water would be Black and Hispanic/Latinx, a higher proportion than the state’s student population overall.13

Though investment is required, every student deserves access to clean, appealing drinking water at school and this strategy would support the health of both students and staff in Massachusetts’ schools.

References

  1. MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Lead and Copper in School Drinking Water Sampling Results. Accessed December 5, 2022. https://www.mass.gov/service-details/lead-and-copper-in-school-drinking-water-sampling-results

  2. Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) Results. 2021.

  3. Malik VS, Pan A, Willett WC , Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;98(4):1084-1102.

  4. Chen L, Caballero B, Mitchell DC, et al. Reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with reduced blood pressure a prospective study among United States adults. Circulation. 2010;121(22):2398-2406.

  5. Bogart LM, Babey SH, Patel AI, Want P, Schuster MA. Lunchtime school water availability and water consumption among California adolescents. J Adolesc Health. 2016; 58(1):98-103, doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.09.007.

  6. Schwartz AE, Leardo M, Aneja S, Elbel B. Effect of a School-Based Water Intervention on Child Body Mass Index and Obesity. JAMA Pediatr. 2016; 170(3):220-226. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3778.

  7. Kenney EL, Cradock AL, Long MW, et al. Cost-Effectiveness of Water Promotion Strategies in Schools for preventing Childhood Obesity and Increasing Water Intake. Obesity. 2019;27(12):2037-2045.

  8. MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Environmental Justice Populations in Massachusetts. Accessed April 7, 2023. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/environmental-justice-populations-in-massachusetts

  9. Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010 Aug;68(8):439-58.

  10. American Dental Association and Centers for Disease Control. Nature’s Way to Prevent Tooth Decay: Water Fluoridation. Published 2006. Accessed July 13, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/pdf/natures_way.pdf

  11. Neumann PJ, Cohen JT, Weinstein MC. Updating cost-effectiveness–the curious resilience of the $50,000-per-QALY threshold. New England Journal of Medicine. 2014 Aug 28;371(9):796-7. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1405158. PMID: 25162885.

  12. The Massachusetts Clean Water Trust. About SWIG. Accessed May 5, 2022. https://www.mass.gov/service-details/about-swig

  13. Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 2022-23 Enrollment By Race/Gender Report (District). Updated December 1, 2022. Accessed April 7, 2023. https://profiles.doe.mass.edu/statereport/enrollmentbyracegender.aspx

Suggested Citation:

McCulloch SM, Barrett JL, Reiner JF, Cradock AL, Gortmaker SL. Massachusetts: Water Dispensers in Schools {Issue Brief}. The CHOICES Learning Collaborative Partnership at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; June 2023. For more information, please visit www.choicesproject.org

The design for this brief and its graphics were developed by Molly Garrone, MA and partners at Burness.

This issue brief was developed at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health through the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES) Learning Collaborative Partnership. This brief is intended for educational use only. This work is supported by The JPB Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U48DP006376). The findings and conclusions are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other funders.

Coffee Chat: What’s Up with School Wellness? Putting Physical Activity Policies into Practice

In this coffee chat, Nicole Good, School Wellness Specialist at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, shared how wellness policies can support implementation of evidence-based physical activity policies and programs and highlighted best practices for moving physical activity policies into practice.

View the resource round-up from this coffee chat.

Download the June 2023 coffee chat presentation slides.