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Project FIT: Rationale, design and baseline characteristics of a school- and community-based intervention to address physical activity and healthy eating among low-income elementary school children

Joey C Eisenmann12*, Katherine Alaimo3, Karin Pfeiffer1, Hye-Jin Paek4, Joseph J Carlson5, Heather Hayes1, Tracy Thompson6, Deanne Kelleher3, Hyun J Oh4, Julie Orth3, Sue Randall6, Kellie Mayfield3 and Denise Holmes6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

2 The Healthy Weight Center, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

3 Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

4 Department of Advertising, Public Relations, and Retailing, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

5 Division of Sports and Cardiovascular Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

6 Institute for Health Care Studies, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:607  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-607

Published: 29 July 2011



This paper describes Project FIT, a collaboration between the public school system, local health systems, physicians, neighborhood associations, businesses, faith-based leaders, community agencies and university researchers to develop a multi-faceted approach to promote physical activity and healthy eating toward the general goal of preventing and reducing childhood obesity among children in Grand Rapids, MI, USA.


There are four overall components to Project FIT: school, community, social marketing, and school staff wellness - all that focus on: 1) increasing access to safe and affordable physical activity and nutrition education opportunities in the schools and surrounding neighborhoods; 2) improving the affordability and availability of nutritious food in the neighborhoods surrounding the schools; 3) improving the knowledge, self-efficacy, attitudes and behaviors regarding nutrition and physical activity among school staff, parents and students; 4) impacting the 'culture' of the schools and neighborhoods to incorporate healthful values; and 5) encouraging dialogue among all community partners to leverage existing programs and introduce new ones.


At baseline, there was generally low physical activity (70% do not meet recommendation of 60 minutes per day), excessive screen time (75% do not meet recommendation of < 2 hours per day), and low intake of vegetables and whole grains and high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, French fries and chips and desserts as well as a high prevalence of overweight and obesity (48.5% including 6% with severe obesity) among low income, primarily Hispanic and African American 3rd-5th grade children (n = 403).

Trial registration NCT01385046

obesity; school intervention; exercise; nutrition; social marketing