Obesity in children and adolescents is a significant public health concern. The World Health Organization Health Promoting Schools (HPS) framework promotes good nutrition and physical activity in school settings. While HPS is embraced globally, effective implementation and sustainable programmes are a continued challenge. This paper aims to report on the characteristics of current school interventions based on HPS and implementation barriers and enablers.
A literature search identified peer-reviewed studies of school health interventions reflective of the HPS framework focusing on obesity prevention. Studies from all countries were included, if conducted in primary and/or secondary schools; included a sufficient amount of qualitative implementation or process evaluation data to draw conclusions regarding key barriers and enablers to implementation; and were published in English.
Nine interventions (n = 9) from seven countries were included. Most were implemented in primary schools and focused on specific grade levels. Engaging parents, the home environment, teacher time constraints, fun interventions, student participation, teacher training, integration with the curriculum and stakeholder engagement all emerged as strong implementation themes. Teachers as role models, establishing community partnerships and policy support also emerged as common themes.
Future interventions may benefit from enhancing teacher and parent health promotion. Partnerships with initiatives focusing on environmental sustainability may simultaneously benefit human and planetary health while strengthening stakeholder engagement opportunities and consistent messaging throughout the community. More comprehensive evaluation data are needed, in particular, for long-term HPS initiatives.
The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship or publication of this article and declare no potential conflicts of interest.
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