The Effects of School Physical Education Grants on Obesity, Fitness, and Academic Achievement
Preventive Medicine, Vol. 78, pp. 45-51, 2015 (DOI:10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.06.011)
42 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2015 Last revised: 10 Nov 2015
Date Written: April 29, 2015
OBJECTIVE. 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 (TFN), 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 TFN were to reduce obesity, increase fitness, and raise academic achievement.
METHOD. We summarize how TFN funds were spent, and estimate the impact of TFN using a fixed effects longitudinal model that exploits changes in TFN eligibility over time. Changes in eligibility occurred when TFN eligibility expanded to new schools after year 2 and when TFN was terminated after year 4.
RESULTS. Most TFN funds were spent on sports and fitness equipment. Smaller amounts were spent on anti-obesity curricula. TFN 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 of TFN were not lost in the year after the program ended, perhaps because schools kept the equipment that they had bought during the years of TFN.
CONCLUSION. The results of TFN 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.
Keywords: obesity, overweight, motor activity, policy
JEL Classification: I10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation