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PE-Nut™

Michigan Fitness Foundation

Overview

PE-Nut™ is a direct education and PSE change intervention that provides a whole-school approach to motivate students, and families to be physically active and eat healthier. Physical educators, classroom teachers and school administrators work together with parents and communities to improve nutrition and physical activity in schools (PreK – grade 5) or community settings. The program consists of several components: quality physical education (K-5) including reinforcement of nutrition concepts, nutrition education and physical activity breaks in the classrooms, Health Through Literacy take home/family and classroom/teacher book bags; daily school announcements; school and family newsletters; and parent engagement events. PE-Nut lends itself to be an addition to interventions such as the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, gardening, etc. The overall goal of PE-Nut™ is to improve the school nutrition and physical activity environment and affect healthy behavior change by involving teachers and administrators to provide consistent messages throughout the school and/or community.

Target Learning Objectives for Individual Behavior Change:

  • Increase physical activity
  • Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables
  • Try new foods to increase variety
  • Choose healthy snacks.
  • Wash hands before eating.

Goals for improving the Classroom and School Environment:

  • Healthy Classroom Parties
  • Non-food rewards
  • School staff and Student role modeling
  • Consistent school wide messaging

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity

Intervention Type: Direct Education, PSE Change

Intervention Reach and Adoption

PE-Nut™ targets students in grades preK-5 and their families. It was originally developed to reach students in low-income Michigan schools and their parents, but is being used in both public and private schools in other states. PE-Nut™ has also been implemented in out-of-school time in both rural and urban settings, such as summer camps or in conjunction with other community programs.

Setting: School, Community (Live)

Age: Preschool, Elementary School Children, Parents/Mothers/Fathers

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

PE-Nut™ is a nutrition and physical education program that uses a whole-school approach to motivate students, parents, and educators to be physically active and eat healthier. The program consists of five components, including:

  1. Health Education in the Classrooms: Classroom teachers use lessons from Healthy Schools, Healthy CommunitiesTM (previously known as Healthy Classrooms, Healthy Schools), Fit BitsTM physical activity breaks, and Health Through LiteracyTM book sets to promote healthy eating and physical activity.
  2. Improved Physical Education: School’s PE teacher use the nutrition-enhanced EPEC CurriculumTM (new name is EPEC PLAY) to educate students in grades K-5 on skill-based physical education, physical literacy and to reinforce basic nutrition concepts.
  3. School-wide Physical Activity and Nutrition Announcements: Principals or other building staff make daily morning announcements that encourage physical activity and healthy eating. Family newsletters reach parents with tips about healthy eating and physical activity. Note: These items are free and downloadable at https://michiganfitness.org/food/pe-nut
  4. Take-home Activities: Classroom teachers send book bags home with children that include books with positive health messages, recipe cards, a family letter and other health promoting activities. Classroom teachers also send home PE-Nut family newsletters.
  5. Parent Engagement: School health leaders integrate PE-Nut messages and education into school-wide events, such as math nights, science fairs, etc.

Intervention Materials

Available for a cost. Some materials are digital and subscription-based, others are hard copy:

  • Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities (previously known as Healthy Classrooms, Healthy SchoolsTM) 6 units for Pre-K, 8 units for Lower Elementary (grades 1-2), and 8 units for Upper Elementary (grades 3-5)
  • EPEC CurriculumTM (Expected update 2024 with the new name EPEC PLAY)
  • Fit BitsTM classroom physical activyit breaks with nutrition messages
  • Health Through LiteracyTM Classroom Book Bags
  • Health Through LiteracyTM Take Home Book Bags
  • Recipe booklet for classroom tastings
  • Virtual version of all lessons, available for online teaching
  • Order all materials through: https://michiganfitness.org/program-materials/healthy-schools-healthy-communities

Available at no cost:

  • School announcements that provide healthy eating and physical activity tips
  • Templates for school newsletters or websites

Free materials available at this link: https://michiganfitness.org/food/pe-nut

 

Intervention Costs

Unit subscriptions are currently available for $49 per educator. Health Through Literacy Pre-K, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary Classroom Book Bag are $150. Fit Bits booklets are $50 each for Pre-K, Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary. We Like to Eat Books Sets are 10 for $30. MyPlate Posters set of 10 for $10. Food Model Cards over 200 foods for $20

Evidence Summary

The PE-Nut™ program was pilot tested with input and review from experts in nutrition, classroom education, physical education, school administration, curriculum development and instructional design. Program outcome evaluations have built the evidence base to establish the PE- Nut™ program as a best practice intervention for changing student behavior to increase the consumption of healthy foods and physical activity.

The evidence base was established for the original version of the classroom intervention Healthy Classrooms, Healthy SchoolsTM .It was established again for the 2017 version of the program Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities; The success of PE-Nut™ comes from the multi-level approach that offers nutrition and physical activity in classrooms and skill-based physical education and reinforcement of nutrition messages in the gymnasium, as well as school-wide “healthy” morning announcements and newsletters. Based on 1,3222 surveys completed by youth in grades 3-5 in FY 2023, 71% self-reported eating more fruit due to the lessons and 62% indicated they are eating more veggies due to the lessons.

The evidence base is supported by findings that showed significant positive change for children in grades 3-5 for frequency of eating vegetables, drinking water, and other healthy beverages, washing hands before eating, trying new foods, and eating healthy foods.

Students survey findings indicated:

 

Long-term Outcomes

  • Normal weight students’ that participated in PE-Nut from 2008-2012 were able to maintain their BMI-z score, and overweight/obese weight group students’ experienced a small decrease in their BMI-z score compared to students that did not participate in the intervention, from the same school district.
  • Changes in Physical Activity: Changes in physical activity among PE-Nut participants were assessed using three different surveys, an outcome survey (Physical Activity Screener for Youth), the Parent Survey, and the Program Evaluation Survey for Youth. 75.3% of the youth reported “yes” to “Are you doing more physical activity because of this program?”. 96.7% of parents answered “yes” relating to the physical activity response option for “Since your child has been in the SNAP-Ed healthy eating and physical activity program are they doing any of these more often? 47.4% of students reported an increase in the number of days they were active for at least 60 minutes on the post-test completed after the last lesson. 
  • Academic Attainment: Overweight and obese students that participated in PE-Nut from 2008-2012 were approximately 12% more likely (overweight students) and 9% more likely (obese students) to be proficient in reading compared to their counterparts in control schools. Similar results were estimated for the math and writing. Overweight and obese students that participated in PE-Nut were 22% and 13% (respectively) more likely to be proficient at math. For writing overweight and obese students were 14% and 13% more likely to be proficient respectively.
  • Estimation of economic Impact of PE-Nut on Participants’ Future Earning: The linear projections using school attendance data for students were used to estimate the future wages of PE-Nut participants . The average work day productivity gained per year, total benefits, cost per participant, net benefit and the present value of the net benefits we calculated.The results suggest that students that participate in PE-Nut on average earn $11,823.56 more over their lifetime compared to only $8,970.36 for non-PE-Nut students. This benefit is larger for overweight students that participated in the program with those receiving PE-Nut expected to earn $15,735.69 more compared to $9,996.84 for the control group.

Classification: Practice-tested

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Individual MT1, MT3 R9
Environmental Settings MT5, MT6 LT5, LT6, LT7, LT10
Sectors of Influence

Evaluation Materials

The PE-Nut program is evaluated yearly using the following tools that are available either in paper (Scantron) surveys or online:

  • That’s Me: My Choices outcome evaluation (Grades 3-5)
  • Youth Physical Activity Screener (Grades 4-5) 
  • Parent Survey (parents of children in PreK-Grade 2)
  • Program Evaluation (Youth) (Grades 3+)

Success Story

Additional Information

Website: The PE-Nut™ website (https://michiganfitness.org/food/pe-nut) includes a PE-Nut™ overview, materials ordering form, and no-cost school announcements and website/newsletter templates.

Contact:
Teresa Zwemer, RDN
Director of Resources and Training

Michigan Fitness Foundation
PO Box 27187
Lansing, MI 48909

Email: resources@michiganfitness.org 
Phone: (800) 434-8642 (toll free) or (517) 347-7891

 

*Updated as of January 10, 2023