Economic Evaluations of School-Based Programs for the Prevention of Childhood Obesity

Canada experienced dramatic increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the past decades as did most countries across the globe. Canadian health care costs associated with excess body weight and its co-morbidities are estimated to be $4.3 billion. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity are the major modifiable risk factors for overweight. Healthy diets and active lifestyles are the key foci of primary prevention initiatives. Schools seem the ideal setting for prevention programs as this is the place to reach almost all children and this is where children spend the majority of their waking hours.  However, the effectiveness of school-based programs in changing health behaviours and preventing obesity is not established.

My research team is involved in the evaluation of various school-based programs that promote healthy eating and active living (please our websites: APPLESchools.ca, REALKidsAlberta.ca, NSCLASS.ca). We evaluate changes in knowledge, attitudes health behaviours, body weights, and health.  Cost analyses are needed to show whether investments in primary prevention produce cost savings through avoided overweight and overweight co-morbidity. We conduct economic evaluations of the programs and take an approach to capture the health benefits for the society to aid future decision-making on prevention.

 

Intern: 
Amrita V. Nair
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Paul J. Veugelers
Province: 
Alberta