Since 2008, REAL Kids Alberta has been collecting data in Grade 5 classrooms across the province. In even-numbered years, we carry out an intensive data collection designed to track provincial trends; in odd-numbered years, we focus on evaluating particular programs aimed at improving the health of students. During our provincial data collection in 2008 and 2010, over 3000 Grade 5 students and over 4000 parents were surveyed in approximately 175 schools. Participation data from 2012 is currently being processed.
What and how do we measure?
- Harvard Food Frequency Questionnaire for Children and Youth (a dietary assessment tool) to assess dietary habits and nutrient intake
- Self-reported information on physical activity, sleep, screen time, recognition of Alberta Health and Wellness programs and other related topics
- Measurement of height and weight to determine overweight and obesity from calculation of Body Mass Index
- Students in some schools wear a digital, time-stamped pedometer for 7 days to measure activity levels
- The parent/guardian(s) of participating students complete a self-administered survey about the home environment.
- The principals of participating schools complete a self-administered survey on school programs and environment.
Consent and confidentiality
Participation in this evaluation is voluntary. All participants must consent to participate by signing a consent form. Students are asked to participate if their parent/guardian has given them written consent to participate. All information collected is anonymous and kept confidential and is not shared with anyone including the child's school personnel. Individual schools are not identified when the findings are produced.
Who is involved in the evaluation?
The principal investigator of this evaluation is Dr. Paul Veugelers, Professor, School of Public Health, at the University of Alberta. Dr. Veugelers main areas of research are related to the importance of nutrition, healthy lifestyle, socio-economic factors, intervention programs and policies in relation to overweight and chronic disease prevention. Dr. Veugelers has extensive experience with school based evaluation. His Nova Scotia-based research revealed the success of a comprehensive school health approach in the Annapolis Valley through the “Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice” intervention. Students from these schools had substantially healthier diets with more fruits and vegetables and fewer calories from dietary fat and were 59% less likely to be overweight and 72% less likely to be obese.
See the People section for further details.
The findings from this evaluation will provide valuable information to support Alberta Health initiatives for children and youth. For further information please contact Dr Paul Veugelers, the Principal Investigator, or Erin Faught, the Project Coordinator.