STUDY: A validated tool to effectively assess nutrition and physical activity environments and behaviors in after school settings.

An HPRC study found that the Out-of-School Nutrition and Physical Activity Observational Practice Assessment Tool (OSNAP-OPAT) can assist researchers and practitioners in validly assessing nutrition and physical activity environments and behaviors in afterschool settings.

Nutrition and physical activity interventions have been effective in creating environmental changes in afterschool programs. However, accurate assessment of these programs is often time-consuming and expensive.

To determine the validity of a simple, low-cost, practitioner-administered observational measure of afterschool physical activity, nutrition, and screen time practices, trained directors from 35 programs in three cities completed the OSNAP Observational Practice Assessment Tool (OSNAP-OPAT) on five days.

The study found that the tool validly assessed water, fruits and vegetables, juice, and grains served at snack, sugary drinks and foods brought from outside the program, as well as children’s overall water intake. Reports of offered physical activity time were correlated with observed physical activity participation and accelerometer estimates. The tool also accurately measured screen time offered, including computer, television, or movie time.

The OSNAP Observational Practice Assessment Tool (OSNAP-OPAT) is low cost and requires minimal staff time to complete. Plus, the instructions for utilizing the measure are built into the tool, rather than requiring the extra expense and time of training. Its user-friendly format can help afterschool staff take action to improve their current practices.

To try out OSNAP-OAT, begin identifying areas of improvement, and developing action plans for your afterschool program, check out the free tool and its associated resources at

Lee RM, Emmons KM, Okechukwu CA, Barrett JL, Kenney EL, Cradock AL, Giles CM, de Blois ME, Gortmaker SL. Validity of a practitioner-administered observational tool to measure physical activity, nutrition, and screen time in school-age programs. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2014 Nov 28;11(1):145.