SNACK: A Collaborative Approach to Improving Children's Fitness

Sunday, 29 October 2017: 3:25 PM

Anne Farrell, PhD
Department of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ, USA

The Smart Nutrition and Conditioning for Kids (SNACK) program was developed in response to the 2010 Childhood Obesity Study recognizing a 49 percent childhood obesity rate in Trenton, New Jersey. Regular participation in physical education (PE) has the potential to develop children whp are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to engage in physical activity as a healthy lifestyle choice. The physical activity component of the SNACK program included the incorporation of Fundamental Integrative Training (FIT) into physical education class and was considered a vital component of SNACK. Children can improve their motor skill performance and enhance their muscle strength with consistent and organized physical education. Enthusiastic participation in regular physical education will encourage children's participation in games, sports and fitness activities. Continued participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity begins by developing physical activity habits early in life. These healthy lifestyle habits protect children from becoming overweight and obese later in life. Lifestyle choices contributing to childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes mellitus include decrease in physical activity and insufficient access to safe play environments. SNACK was an 8 week program where children learned proper form and technique on basic exercises before progressing to more challenging skills. The FIT intervention was performed twice a week in physical education class for 8 weeks. Pre- and post- Fitnessgram fitness tests were completed by each child. Effort was encouraged at every exercise station by nursing, health, and exercise science students and faculty, and the learning process was reinforced throughout. Fundamental Integrative Training (FIT) encourages the development of basic conditioning movements in a supportive environment and can be an effective approach for improving the physical fitness of school-age youth. The questionnaire contained information specific to their child’s routine physical activity, screen time, and typical food choices. Fitnessgram test scores improved for all fitness tests for both the experimental and control groups in both schools (p < .05). Significant differences between groups was found in 4 areas: PACER, push-up, curl-ups, and long jump (p < .05). FIT is one example of an approach to improve fitness levels with minimal time and resources. Smart Nutrition and Conditioning for Kids (SNACK) is one example of an interdisciplinary approach to early intervention that teaches children how to be and stay healthy.