Evidence Based Resources and School Wellness Policies

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is a common, serious, and costly chronic disease affecting one in five children and one in three adults, nationwide. As children with obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults, they also have a higher risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and cancers. This is not only costly to individuals’ quality of life, but also to our healthcare system at an annual cost of over $140 billion.

Unfortunately, fewer than one in ten American children and adults eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables, fewer than one in four American youth get enough aerobic exercise each day, and only one in four American adults meet physical activity guidelines each day. Furthermore, more than half of Americans do not live within half a mile of a park and 40% of all US households do not live within one mile of healthier food retailers.


Over the years many resources have been developed to prevent and manage obesity. Please see below for a selection of these resources:

How to Increase Access to Healthy Foods within Communities


Resources to creating local school wellness policies to promote children’s health and encourage physical activity during the school day are:


CDC | Physical Activity Guidelines. This one-page fact sheet outlines how much physical activity is recommended for an individual, depending on their age.

Physical Activity Promotes Brain Development | Extension | University of Nevada, Reno. This webpage, provided by the University of Nevada, Reno, describes the benefits of physical activity on the developing brain.

Boston Children’s Answers | Regular physical activity linked to more ‘fit’ preteen brains. On this webpage, the Boston Children’s Hospital provides an overview of a recent study that links physical activity to a more “fit” preteen brain.

Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment | Maturation of the adolescent brain. This article provides information on the development of the human brain, specifically focusing on the adolescent stage of the life course.

CDC | The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance.  This report describes, in detail, the positive association between school-based physical activity and academic performance.

CDC | 2015 United Stated Youth Risk Behavior Survey | Dietary Behavior. This two-page report shows the significant association between dietary behaviors and the percentage of students who reported engaging in risky behaviors.

CDC | 2015 United States Youth Risk Behavior Survey | Physical Activity/Sedentary Behaviors. This one-page report shows the significant association between physical activity/sedentary behaviors and the percentage of students who reported engaging in risky behaviors.

CDC | Making the Connection: Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviors and Academic Grades.  This two-page fact sheet reveals data from the 2019 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, showing that students with higher grades were more likely to engage in physical activity compared to students with lower grades.

CDC | Strategies to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases | A Guide to Increase the Consumption of Fruits & Vegetables. This document provides guidance on how to select strategies to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables.