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J Sch Health. 2014 Aug;84(8):502-6. doi: 10.1111/josh.12177.

Positive school climate is associated with lower body mass index percentile among urban preadolescents.

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Data Manager, (, CARE: Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, Yale School of Public Health, 135 College Street, Suite 200, New Haven, CT 06510.



Schools are an important environmental context in children's lives and are part of the complex web of factors that contribute to childhood obesity. Increasingly, attention has been placed on the importance of school climate (connectedness, academic standards, engagement, and student autonomy) as 1 domain of school environment beyond health policies and education that may have implications for student health outcomes. The purpose of this study is to examine the association of school climate with body mass index (BMI) among urban preadolescents.


Health surveys and physical measures were collected among fifth- and sixth-grade students from 12 randomly selected public schools in a small New England city. School climate surveys were completed district-wide by students and teachers. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to test the association between students' BMI and schools' climate scores.


After controlling for potentially confounding individual-level characteristics, a 1-unit increase in school climate score (indicating more positive climate) was associated with a 7-point decrease in students' BMI percentile.


Positive school climate is associated with lower student BMI percentile. More research is needed to understand the mechanisms behind this relationship and to explore whether interventions promoting positive school climate can effectively prevent and/or reduce obesity.


adolescent health; child health; childhood obesity; health policy; public health; school climate

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