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Prev Med. 2015 Sep;78:44-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.06.011. Epub 2015 Jul 8.

The effects of school physical education grants on obesity, fitness, and academic achievement.

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Center for Health and Social Policy, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA. Electronic address:
Center for Health and Social Policy, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA.



Foundations and governments fund a number of programs that provide grants to improve school physical education or other forms of school-based physical activity. The effects of these grant programs are unknown. We evaluate the effects of Texas Fitness Now, a program in which the state of Texas granted $37 million to improve physical education in high-poverty middle schools over the 4 school years from 2007-08 to 2010-11. The stated goals of Texas Fitness Now were to reduce obesity, increase fitness, and raise academic achievement.


We summarize how Texas Fitness Now funds were spent and estimate the impact of Texas Fitness Now using a fixed-effects longitudinal model that exploits changes in schools' eligibility over time. Changes in eligibility occurred when eligibility expanded to new schools after year 2 and when the program was terminated after year 4.


Most Texas Fitness Now funds were spent on sports and fitness equipment. Smaller amounts were spent on anti-obesity curricula. Texas Fitness Now improved strength and flexibility, especially among girls, but it did not improve BMI or academic achievement, and it had mixed effects on aerobic capacity. The fitness benefits were not lost in the year after the program ended, perhaps because schools kept the equipment that they had bought during their years of eligibility.


The results of Texas Fitness Now were typical for an intervention that relied almost exclusively on physical activity. Programs that improve BMI as well as fitness tend to have a more fully developed nutrition component.


Motor activity; Obesity; Overweight; Policy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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