One-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese, and the issue is especially challenging for rural communities. Researchers at Oregon State University Extension Service have developed a new toolkit to help teachers engage rural Oregon youth in healthier lifestyles. The Balanced Energy Physical Activity (BEPA) Toolkit is a school-based program offering resources on physical activity and nutrition. The toolkit was tested in a pilot study at six rural school districts, according to Kathy Gunter, an OSU Extension Service physical activity specialist. Of 75 teachers surveyed for the pilot program, 57 responded with physical activity data for 1,103 students. Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classroom teachers who used the toolkit measured significant increases in the physical activity of participating boys and girls. From 2011 through 2016, GROW was implemented in Oregon and in five additional western states. In Oregon, county extension offices supported GROW activities in partnership with the towns and elementary schools of Estacada, Molalla, Clatskanie, Rainier, Bonanza, and Chiloquin.
The research was funded by NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.