Eat Well & Keep Moving is a school-based program that equips children with the knowledge, skills, and supportive environment they need in order to lead healthier lives by choosing nutritious diets and being physically active. The program is designed for fourth and fifth grade students. Its six interlinked components—classroom education, physical education, school-wide promotional campaigns, food service, staff wellness, and parent and community involvement—work together to create a supportive environment that promotes the learning of lifelong good habits.
Eat Well & Keep Moving uses existing school resources, requires no extra staff, builds on existing health curricula, and costs little to implement. School administrators can pick and choose from the comprehensive protocol to enhance their existing programs in nutrition and physical activity. Key components of Eat Well & Keep Moving include:
- Eight core principles: Central to the program are the eight Principles of Healthy Living—at least one of which is emphasized in each lesson:
- Make the switch from sugary drinks to water.
- Choose colorful fruits and vegetables instead of junk food.
- Choose whole-grain foods and limit foods with added sugar.
- Choose foods with healthy fat, limit foods high in saturated fat, and avoid foods with trans fat.
- Eat a nutritious breakfast every morning.
- Be physically active every day for at least an hour.
- Limit TV and other recreational screen time to two hours or less per day.
- Get enough sleep to give the brain and body the rest they need.
- Classroom lessons: The program’s 28 interdisciplinary classroom lessons (14 for
each grade) are designed so that nutrition and physical activity can be taught by classroom teachers in core subject areas, including math, language arts, and science. In addition, students learn about nutrition and physical activity while actually being physically active in the classroom. This is especially valuable in schools where physical education is limited or not available.
- Physical education: The physical education lessons (5 core physical education lessons, 6 FitCheck physical education microunits, 5 and physical education microunits) offer students more traditional physical education activities, many of which also integrate nutrition topics. The FitCheck is a tool for self-assessment of activity and inactivity to help motivate students to change their behavior and reach their physical activity goals. The FitCheck physical education microunits are designed to teach students about a variety of topics in physical activity. Likewise, the additional physical education microunits are five-minute-long lessons that cover a range of physical activity topics.
- Promotions for the classroom: Promotions give students and teachers fun and engaging ways to put the themes of the program into practice. These promotions include walking clubs, the Get 3-at-School and 5-A-Day promotion, the Freeze My TV contest, and the Tour de Health game.
- Food service: Eat Well & Keep Moving uses the cafeteria as a learning lab for nutrition. The cafeteria not only reinforces the messages learned in the classroom, but it also provides students with the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice. The Eat Well & Keep Moving Web Resource contains detailed information for food service managers interested in making healthful changes to their school menus, including recipes, preparation tips, promotional material, classroom tie-ins, and staff training guides.
- Staff wellness: It is important for all faculty and staff involved with the Eat Well & Keep Moving program to feel empowered about their own health. If they are able to learn about and develop the skills necessary to make healthy lifestyle choices, faculty and staff will in turn be excellent role models for students. The Eat Well & Keep Moving Web Resource contains a tool to assess staff wellness needs and interests. It also presents workshops on stress management and overall health, nutrition, and
physical activity, enabling faculty and staff to not only become empowered regarding their own health but also to become familiar with the lesson topics.
- Parent and community involvement: The parent and community involvement component of Eat Well & Keep Moving encourages parents and guardians and family members to become involved in activities that complement the program messages students learn in school. The Eat Well & Keep Moving Web Resource offers suggestions on motivating parents, creating successful parent activities, assessing community resources, an
d contacting community organizations to give pro-bono workshops with parents. It also includes ready-to-use fact sheets and newsletter articles for promoting the Eat Well & Keep Moving messages to parents and guardians.
- School wellness policies: Eat Well & Keep Moving supports and enhances the implementation of school wellness policies.
How effective is Eat Well & Keep Moving?
Eat Well & Keep Moving was successfully implemented in public schools, and was well liked by principals, teachers, food service staff, parents, and students. In extensive field tests among students and teachers using Eat Well & Keep Moving in Baltimore, children:
- Ate more fruits and vegetables
- Reduced their intake of saturated fat
- Watched less TV
- Improved their overall knowledge of nutrition and physical activity
Gortmaker SL, Cheung LW, Peterson KE, Chomitz G, Cradle JH, Dart H, Fox MK, Bullock RB, Sobol AM, Colditz G, Field AE, 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 Sep; 153(9): 975-83.
Field AE, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL, Cheung LW, Rockett H, Fox MK, Colditz GA. Reproducibility and validity of a food frequency questionnaire among fourth to seventh grade inner-city school children: implications of age and day-to-day variation in dietary intake. Public Health Nutr. 1999 Sep; 2(3): 293-300.
Hermann, M. Motivating Children to Change Their Eating and Activity Habits. Community Nutritionary, the Dannon Institute Publication for the Awards for Excellence in Community Nutrition, Spring 2001, Vol. 4 No. 1.
Cheung LWY, Dart H, Kalin S, Otis B, Gortmaker SL. Eat Well & Keep Moving: An Interdisciplinary Elementary Curriculum Nutrition and Physical Activity (Third Edition). Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 2016.
Cheung LWY, Dart H, Kalin SR, Gortmaker SL. Eat Well & Keep Moving: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum for Teaching Upper Elementary School Nutrition and Physical Activity (Second Edition). Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 2007.
Cheung LWY, Gortmaker SL, Dart H. Eat Well & Keep Moving: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum for Teaching Upper Elementary School Nutrition and Physical Activity. Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 2001.
Cheung LWY, Jukes, M. Be Healthy! It’s A Girl Thing: Food, Fitness, and Feeling Great. Crown Publishers, NY, 2003.
- 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 Eat Well & Keep Moving.
- The Nutrition Source, a website maintained by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Adolescent and School Health Publications
- Guidelines for school and community programs to promote lifelong physical activity among young people. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. March 07, 1997/46 (RR-6); 1–36.
- Guidelines for school health programs to promote lifelong healthy eating. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. June 14, 1996/45 (RR-9); 1–33.
- CDC’s Role in Promoting Healthy Lifestyles: Testimony of J.L. Gerberding, Director of the CDC, before the Committee on Appropriations, 17 Feb 2003