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Charlottesville, VA, United States

Frerichs L.,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Brittin J.,University of Nebraska Medical Center | Intolubbe-Chmil L.,Johnson University | Trowbridge M.,University of Virginia | And 2 more authors.
Journal of School Health | Year: 2016

BACKGROUND: Schools have increasing responsibility to address healthy eating, but physical barriers influence their ability to adopt and sustain recommended strategies. We took advantage of a natural experiment to investigate the role of the physical environment in shaping healthy eating attitudes and practices among school staff members. METHODS: A school district consolidated its elementary schools and incorporated architectural features to support healthy eating into a building renovation. Surveys along with structured, in-depth interviews were administered prior to and at 12 months postoccupancy. Paired t-tests and McNemar's tests were used to analyze changes in survey indices and interview data were coded for themes. RESULTS: The school implemented new policies and programs, including staff wellness activities. There was a significant decrease in the percent of teachers with a high-fat diet (from 73.68% to 57.14%, p < .05). Many physical barriers were removed but new challenges emerged, and staff varied in their awareness and comfort with using the new healthy eating features. CONCLUSIONS: We found promising evidence that school architecture can support a school to address healthy eating. To enhance influence of the physical environment, more research is merited to test complementary strategies such as improving ownership of space and increasing self-efficacy to manage space. © 2016, American School Health Association. Source

Brittin J.,University of Nebraska Medical Center | Sorensen D.,VMDO Architects | Trowbridge M.,University of Virginia | Breithecker D.,Federal Institute for Posture and Mobilisation Support | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Increasing children's physical activity at school is a national focus in the U.S. to address childhood obesity. While research has demonstrated associations between aspects of school environments and students' physical activity, the literature currently lacks a synthesis of evidence to serve as a practical, spatially-organized resource for school designers and decision-makers, as well as to point to pertinent research opportunities. This paper describes the development of a new practical tool: Physical Activity Design Guidelines for School Architecture. Its aims are to provide architects and designers, as well as school planners, educators, and public health professionals, with strategies for making K-12 school environments conducive to healthy physical activity, and to engage scientists in transdisciplinary perspectives toward improved knowledge of the school environment's impact. We used a qualitative review process to develop evidence-based and theory-driven school design guidelines that promote increased physical activity among students. The design guidelines include specific strategies in 10 school design domains. Implementation of the guidelines is expected to enable students to adopt healthier physical activity behaviors. The tool bridges a translational gap between research and environmental design practice, and may contribute to setting new industry and education standards. © 2015 Brittin et al. Source

Frerichs L.,University of Nebraska Medical Center | Brittin J.,University of Nebraska Medical Center | Sorensen D.,VMDO Architects | Trowbridge M.J.,University of Virginia | And 4 more authors.
American Journal of Public Health | Year: 2015

We examined evidence regarding the influence of school physical environment on healthy-eating outcomes. We applied a systems perspective to examine multiple disciplines' theoretical frameworks and used a mixed-methods systematic narrative review method, considering both qualitative and quantitative sources (published through March 2014) for inclusion. We developed a causal loop diagram from 102 sources identified. We found evidence of the influence of many aspects of a school's physical environment on healthy-eating outcomes. The causal loop diagram highlights multilevel and interrelated factors and elucidates the specific roles of design and architecture in encouraging healthy eating within schools. Our review highlighted the gaps in current evidence and identified areas of research needed to refine and expand school architecture and design strategies for addressing healthy eating. © 2014, American Public Health Association Inc. All rights reserved. Source

Huang T.T.-K.,University of Nebraska Medical Center | Sorensen D.,VMDO Architects | Davis S.,VMDO Architects | Frerichs L.,University of Nebraska Medical Center | And 4 more authors.
Preventing Chronic Disease | Year: 2013

We developed a new tool, Healthy Eating Design Guidelines for School Architecture, to provide practitioners in architecture and public health with a practical set of spatially organized and theory-based strategies for making school environments more conducive tolearning about and practicing healthy eating by optimizing physical resources and learning spaces. The design guidelines, developed through multidisciplinary collaboration, cover10 domains of the school food environment (eg, cafeteria, kitchen, garden) and 5 core healthy eating design principles. A school redesign project in Dillwyn, Virginia, used the tool to improve the schools' ability to adopt a healthy nutrition curriculum and promote healthy eating. The new tool, now in a pilot version, is expected to evolve as its components are tested and evaluated through public health and design research. Source

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