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School-Based Health Education: What Works?

  • Ellen Schall
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Dr. Schall, Martin E. Cherkasky Professor of Health Policy and Management, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University, 600 Tisch Hall, 40 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012-1118.
    Affiliations
    From the Department of Health Policy and Management, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University, New York, New York
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      Increasingly, health care reform efforts are focusing on interdisciplinary, comprehensive approaches to health care delivery. I argue that school health education is a vital part of improving the health of this nation’s citizens and that effective school-based education must be comprehensive, continuous, and interdisciplinary and must offer information, motivation, and skills. The National Center for Health Education, the nation’s leading private organization focusing solely on comprehensive health education, has developed Growing Healthy, a comprehensive school-based curriculum aimed at promoting healthy lifestyle choices for children in grades kindergarten through six, now in over 9,000 elementary schools in 42 states. Students participating in the Growing Healthy program showed greater benefits in their health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors than participants in three targeted, one-shot (health education) programs. Further studies have shown that school-based health education programs that start early and continue through several grades provide significant and sustained effects on overall health knowledge, attitudes, and practices.