Program

Sep 19, 2007

OVERVIEW

Girlfriends for KEEPS was an
after-school program designed to prevent obesity among African-American
girls. In a random assignment study, girls assigned to participate in the
Girlfriend for KEEPS intervention were compared with girls assigned to a
control group. At the twelve-week follow-up, girls who had been assigned
to participate in the Girlfriends for KEEPS intervention did not differ
significantly from girls assigned to the control group on measures of physical
activity, dietary intake, or body mass index (BMI). Intervention girls
did score significantly higher than control girls on measures of healthy choice
behavioral intentions, diet knowledge, and preference for physical activity,
however. Intervention girls were more likely than control girls to be
participating in moderate weight-monitoring behaviors, but were also more
likely to be participating in unhealthy weight-monitoring behaviors.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: African-American girls, aged 8-10

Girlfriends For KEEPS (Keys to
Eating, Exercising, Playing, and Sharing) was an after-school program designed
to prevent obesity among African-American girls. The program was based on
social cognitive theory and sought to impact girls’ levels of physical activity
and girls’ dietary habits.

The program met twice a week, for one hour after school, for
twelve weeks. Each meeting included culturally-appropriate, hands-on
activities that related to a weekly health behavior message. Meetings
also included physical activities such as double-dutch, step aerobics, and hip
hop dancing. Healthy snacks (sometimes prepared by the girls) and bottled
water were made available at every meeting. Girls were provided with
transportation home after meetings and received incentives for program
attendance.

Additionally, the program had family components.
Participating girls were regularly provided with “take home packs” that
contained snacks, tip sheets, and refrigerator magnets for their
families. Families were also given the opportunity to participate in two
family nights that included informative presentations, active games, and
goal-setting activities. Program staff phoned families to check on their
progress towards goals set at family nights and led families on Saturday health
hikes. Part of the goal of this pilot program was to assess program
take-up and acceptability.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Story, M., Sherwood, N. E., Himes, J. H., Davis, M., Jacobs Jr., D.
R., Cartwright, Y., Smyth, M.,& Rochon, J. (2003).An
After-School Obesity Prevention Program for African-American Girls: The Minnesota GEMS Pilot
Study. Ethnicity & Disease, 13, S1-54-64.

Evaluated population: 54 African-American girls from
three schools in Minnesota
served as the study sample for this investigation. Girls were between the
ages of 8 and 10, and the majority came from low-income households.

Approach: Gils were randomly assigned to either the
intervention group or the control group. Girls assigned to the
intervention group took part in a twelve-week implementation of Girlfriends for
KEEPS. The intervention was led by African-American staff who received
training on the program. Girls assigned to the control group took part in
three meetings that focused on self-esteem and cultural enrichment. All
girls were assessed at baseline and, again, immediately upon completion of the
twelve-week intervention period.

Results: At the twelve-week follow-up, girls who had
been assigned to participate in the Girlfriends for KEEPS intervention did not
differ significantly from girls assigned to the control group on measures of
physical activity, dietary intake, or body mass index (BMI). However,
intervention girls did score significantly higher than control girls on
measures of healthy choice behavioral intentions, diet knowledge, and
preference for physical activity. Intervention girls were more likely
than control girls to be participating in moderate weight-monitoring behaviors,
but they were also more likely to be participating in unhealthy
weight-monitoring behaviors. Parent-reported changes were similarly
uneven, e.g., a small reduction in high fat foods, but a number of
non-significant variables as well. However, the program was viewed
favorably and was well-attended.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Curriculum materials unavailable for
purchase.

References:

Story, M., Sherwood, N. E., Himes, J. H., Davis, M., Jacobs Jr., D. R., Cartwright, Y.,
Smyth, M.,& Rochon,
J. (2003).An After-School Obesity
Prevention Program for African-American Girls: The Minnesota GEMS Pilot Study. Ethnicity & Disease, 13, S1-54-64.

Keywords: Middle
Childhood (6-11), Children (3-11), School-based, gender-specific (female only),
African American or Black, Elementary, Physical Health, obesity, nutrition,
life skills training.

Program information last updated on
9/19/07.

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