Making Healthy Eating Policy Practice: A Group Randomized Controlled Trial on Changes in Snack Quality, Costs, and Consumption in After-School Programs

Michael W. Beets, R. Glenn Weaver, Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy, Jennifer Huberty, Dianne S. Ward, Darcy Freedman, Brent Hutto, Justin B. Moore, Aaron Beighle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose. The aim of this study was to evaluate an intervention designed to assist after-school programs (ASPs) in meeting snack nutrition policies that specify that a fruit or vegetable be served daily and sugar-sweetened beverages/foods and artificially flavored foods eliminated. Design. The study used a 1-year group-randomized controlled trial. Setting. The study took place in ASPs operating in South Carolina, United States. Subjects. Twenty ASPs serving over 1700 children were recruited, match-paired postbaseline on enrollment size and days fruits/vegetables were served per week, and randomized to either intervention (n = 10) or control (n = 10) groups. Intervention. The study used Strategies To Enhance Practice for Healthy Eating (STEPs-HE), a multistep adaptive intervention framework that assists ASP leaders and staff to serve snacks that meet nutrition policies while maintaining cost. Measures. Direct observation of snacks served and consumed and monthly snack expenditures as determined by receipts were used. Analysis. The study used nonparametric and mixed-model repeated measures. Results. By postassessment, intervention ASPs increased serving of fruits/vegetables to 3.9 ± 2.1 vs. 0.7 ± 1.7 d/wk and decreased serving sugar-sweetened beverages to 0.1 ± 0.7 vs. 1.8 ± 2.4 d/wk and sugar-sweetened foods to 0.3 ± 1.1 vs. 2.7 ± 2.5 d/wk compared to controls, respectively. Cost of snacks increased by $0.02/snack in the intervention ASPs ($0.36 to $0.38) compared to a $0.01 per snack decrease in the control group ($0.39 to $0.38). Across both assessments and groups, 80% to 100% of children consumed FVs. Conclusions. The STEPs-HE intervention can assist ASPs in meeting nationally endorsed nutrition policies with marginal increases in cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-531
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Community
  • Health focus: nutrition
  • Intervention
  • Manuscript format: research
  • Outcome measure: behavioral
  • Policy
  • Prevention Research
  • Research purpose: intervention testing/ program evaluation
  • School
  • Setting: school
  • Strategy: skill building/behavior change
  • Study design: group randomized trial
  • Target population age: youth
  • Target population circumstances: geographic location
  • financial/economic
  • local community
  • policy
  • race/ethnicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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