YMCA-Harvard Afterschool Food and Fitness

The YMCA–Harvard Afterschool Food and Fitness Project aimed to help afterschool programs and child care providers create healthy environments for children. The HPRC conducted a quasi-experimental evaluation of a YMCA-driven intervention focused on nutrition and physical activity practice changes in 32 afterschool programs across the country.Kids of varying ages running through a field

The program was implemented via an organizational change model, and participating sites utilized the Food & Fun curriculum developed by the HPRC in partnership with the YMCA of the USA. The organizational change model included learning collaboratives, which aim to empower staff to find local methods for achieving specific program changes related to nutrition and physical activity. The YMCA–Harvard Afterschool Food and Fitness Project found improved physical activity in intervention sites, compared to control sites, and our evaluation of early collaboratives has documented the positive impact of the YMCA learning collaboratives on improving snack offerings.

Prior to the formal evaluation, the HPRC worked with the YMCA of the USA to develop Youth Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Out-of-School-Time Programs. These guidelines have been integrated into the organization’s goals and tools for promoting healthy changes.

Principal Investigator: Steven Gortmaker, PhD
Funders: Pritzker Foundation and the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation
Contact: Rebecca Mozaffarian

Browse our Products section to view key resources from this project and from all of our projects!

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Mozaffarian RS, Lee RM, Kennedy MA, Ludwig DS, Mozaffarian D, Gortmaker SL. Identifying whole grain foods: a comparison of different approaches for selecting more healthful whole grain products. Public Health Nutr. 2013 Dec;16(12):2255-64. doi: 10.1017/S1368980012005447. Epub 2013 Jan 4. PubMed PMID: 23286205; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4486284.

Gortmaker SL, Lee R, Cradock AL, Sobol AM, Duncan DT, Wang YC. Disparities in youth physical activity in the United States: 2003-2006. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 May;44(5):888-93. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31823fb254. PubMed PMID: 22089478.

Gortmaker SL, Lee RM, Mozaffarian RS, Sobol AM, Nelson TF, Roth BA, Wiecha JL. Effect of an after-school intervention on increases in children’s physical activity. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Mar; 44(3):450-7.

Mozaffarian RS, Andry A, Lee RM, Wiecha JL, Gortmaker SL. Price and healthfulness of snacks in 32 YMCA after-school programs in 4 US metropolitan areas, 2006-2008. Prev Chronic Dis. 2012; 9:E38. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Mozaffarian RS, Wiecha JL, Roth BA, Nelson TF, Lee RM, Gortmaker SL. Impact of an organizational intervention designed to improve snack and beverage quality in YMCA after-school programs. Am J Public Health. 2010 May; 100(5): 925–32. Epub 2009 Oct 15.

Ramanadhan, S, Wiecha JL, Gortmaker SL, Emmons KM, Viswanath K. Informal training in staff networks to support dissemination of health promotion programs. Am J Health Promot. 2010 Sept-Oct; 25(1):12-8.

Ramanadhan S, Wiecha JL, Emmons KM, Gortmaker SL, Viswanath K. Extra-team connections for knowledge transfer between staff teams. Health Educ Res. 2009; 24(6): 967–976.

Wiecha JL, Nelson TF, Roth BA, Glashagel J, Vaughan L. Disseminating Health Promotion Practices in After-school programs through YMCA Learning Collaboratives. Am J Health Promot. 2010; 24(3): 190-198.


Criss S, Lee RM, Mozaffarian RS, Simon M, Simon J, Gortmaker S. Food & Fun After School Video: Training staff to promote healthy environments and behaviors in out-of-school time. (Presented at the American Public Health Association Meetings, October 2012.)

Lee RM, Mozaffarian RS, Gortmaker J, Burchard J, Gortmaker S. Apps for Nutrition and Physical Activity Education and Environmental Change in Out-of-School Time Programs. (Presented at the American Public Health Association Meetings, October 2012.)

Lee RM, Gortmaker S, Mozaffarian RS, Wiecha J. Measuring and promoting water as the primary beverage within after-school programs. (Presented at the American Public Health Association Meetings, October 2009.)


Lee RM & Wiecha JL. Internal spread implementation executive summary: YMCA–Harvard Food and Fitness Project.