In Anadarko, Oklahoma, community members and school administrators asked researchers to develop an affordable and effective intervention to prevent and reduce the high rates of obesity among the community’s adolescents. Almost half the students in Anadarko’s public schools are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. In the high school, about 60% of the students are American Indian and at especially high risk for developing diabetes.
About 45 Anadarko high school students, 34 of whom are enrolled in the study, are participating in a 16-week elective physical education class which includes a 35-40 minute daily walking or running session. The superintendent and principals support this effort to increase physical activity during school hours. Before the intervention, students complete a 1-mile walking test to determine their physical fitness level. They also have their blood pressure taken; random cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose measured; height and weight measured; and body mass index (BMI) and body composition determined. Project staff will ask students about their program likes, dislikes, and ideas for improvement. Project staff are also working with the high school administrators and food service personnel to provide students with healthier vending machine and cafeteria food choices.
The overall goal of TRAILS is to serve as a model for school administrators and state and local policymakers that will encourage affordable and manageable programs for in-school physical education classes.