Planet Health

Project Description

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Planet Health is an interdiscipinary curriculum focused on improving the health and well-being of sixth through eighth grade students while building and reinforcing skills in language arts, math, science, social studies, and physical education.

Through classroom and physical education activities, Planet Health aims to increase activity, improve dietary quality, and decrease inactivity. Such healthy lifestyle habits can help prevent overweight, and if sustained, can lower risk factors for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and osteoporosis.

The second edition of Planet Health includes revised nutrition and physical activity information, ensuring that you’re equipped with the most up-to-date science. The book also includes an all-new CD-ROM with plenty of reproducible worksheets, parent information and newsletters, school health resources, and other teacher resource materials. Planet Health provides:

  • 35 complete, ready-to-use lesson plans and 31 microunits that promote healthy nutrition and activity;
  • materials and instructions to implement Power Down, a two-week campaign to reduce television and other media viewing time, which you can launch in the classroom or school-wide; and
  • FitCheck, a self-assessment tool to help students track and improve their activity levels.

Planet Health is designed to fit within existing curricula and meets Massachusetts Department of Education Curriculum Frameworks and national learning standards for math, science, language arts, social studies, comprehensive health, and physical education. Teacher trainings, flexible design, and planning tools facilitate the implementation of Planet Health.

Planet Health is a tested intervention and has been measured for readability by the National Cancer Institute and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Principal Investigator:Steven Gortmaker, PhD
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; University Gift
Funding Dates:
1995–1999; 1999–2003; 2003–Present
For more information, contact Steven Gortmaker.


Sample Lessons

Lesson 3: Food Power

Lesson 11: Problem Solving: Making Healthy Choices

Lesson 19: Passing the Sugar

Teacher Training

Planet Health includes a teacher workshop presentation that models the methods of the program, engages the learners’ current knowledge, promotes reflection and discussion, and encourages learners to compare their current knowledge and behaviors with those suggested by the book and to create plans and goals for the future. Please note that this is just a sample of the training materials. Complete training materials and instructions are provided on the Planet Health CD-ROM.

Parent Information

Families are an important component of students’ environment and role models for nutritional and physical activity choices. There are a number of lessons in Planet Health that provide opportunities for input from and conversations with the parents and other family members of students. Read more about Connecting Parents and Families through Planet Health.

PH girl_2 (ph_girl.jpg)Sample Newsletter Articles and E-mail Messages

Apple a Day

Get Moving

Choose Healthy Fat

Go for Whole Grain

Tune Out TV

Be Sugar Smart

Healthy Snacks

Fact Sheets

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Activate Your Family   Spanish

Dietary Fat   Spanish

Fruits and Vegetables   Spanish

Take Control of TV   Spanish

Whole Grains   Spanish

Healthy Snacks

Healthy Hydration



Journal Articles

Gortmaker SL, Peterson KE, Wiecha JL, Sobol AM, Dixit S, Fox MK, Laird N. Reducing obesity via a school-based interdisciplinary intervention among youth: Planet Health. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999 Apr; 153 (4): 409–18.

Wiecha JL, Sobol AM, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Household television access: associations with screen time, reading and homework among youth. Ambulatory Pediatrics. 2001 Sept–Oct; 1(5): 244–251.

Austin SB, Gortmaker SL. Dieting and smoking initiation in early adolescent girls and boys: a prospective study. Am J Public Health. 2001 Mar; 91 (3): 446–50.

Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet. 2001 Feb 17; 357(9255):505–8.

Wang LY, Yang Q, Lowry R, Wechsler H. Economic analysis of a school-based obesity prevention program. Obes Res. 2003 Nov; 11 (11): 1313–1324.

Wiecha JL, El Ayadi AM, Fuemmeler BF, Carter JE, Handler S, Johnson S, Strunk N, Korzek-Ramirez D, Gortmaker SL. Diffusion of an integrated health education program in an urban school system: Planet Health. J Pediatr Psychol. 2004 Sept; 29: 467–474.

Cradock AL, Wiecha JL, Peterson KE, Sobol AM, Colditz GA, Gortmaker SL. Youth recall and TriTrac accelerometer estimates of physical activity levels. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Mar; 36 (3): 525–532.

Boynton-Jarrett R, Thomas TN, Peterson KE, et al. Impact of television viewing patterns on fruit and vegetable consumption among adolescents. Pediatrics. 2004 Dec; 112: 1321–1326.

Austin SB, Field E, Wiecha J, Peterson KE, Gortmaker S. The impact of a school-based obesity prevention trial on disordered weight-control behaviors in early adolescent girls. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005 Mar; 159(3) :225–229.

Wiecha JL, Peterson KE, Ludwig DS, Kim J, Sobol A, Gortmaker SL. When children eat what they watch: impact of television viewing on dietary intake in youth. Arch Pediatr Adolec Med. 2006 Apr; 106(4): 436–42.

Gortmaker SL, Cheung LWY, Peterson KE, Chomitz G, Cradle JH, Fox MK, Bullock RB, Sobol AM, Colditz G, Field A, Laird N. Impact of a school-based interdisciplinary intervention on diet and physical activity among urban primary school children: eat well and keep moving. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999; 153: 975–83.

Chavarro JE, Peterson KE, Sobol AM, Wiecha JL, Gortmaker SL. Effects of a school-based obesity-prevention intervention on menarche (United States). Cancer Causes Control. 2005 Dec; 16(10): 1245–52.

Austin SB, Kim J, Wiecha J, Troped PJ, Feldman HA, Peterson KE. School-based overweight preventive intervention lowers incidence of disordered weight-control behaviors in early adolescent girls. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007Sep; 161 (9): 865–9.

Franks AL, Kelder SH, Dino GA, Horn KA, Gortmaker SL, Wiecha JL, Simoes EJ. School-based programs: lessons learned from CATCH, Planet Health, and Not-On-Tobacco. Prev Chronic Dis.2007 Apr; 4(2): 1–9.


Carter J, Wiecha J, Peterson K, Gortmaker S. Planet Health: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum for Teaching Middle School Nutrition and Physical Activity. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, 2001.

Carter J, Wiecha JL, Peterson KE, Nobrega S, Gortmaker SL. Planet Health: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum for Teaching Middle School Nutrition and Physical Activity (Second Edition). Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, 2007.

Other Resources

The mission of Human Kinetics is to produce innovative, informative products in all areas of physical activity that help people worldwide lead healthier, more active lives. Human Kinetics is the publisher of Planet Health. To learn more about or order Planet Health, please go to

The Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T. portal provides access to data and resources that can help planners, program staff, and researchers to design, implement, and evaluate evidence-based cancer control programs. Planet Health is recommended by Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T. as a research-tested intervention program. 

The Harvard Prevention Research Center is a member of the Prevention Research Centers Program, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cooperative agreement number 1-U48-DP-001946.