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Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Fit Kids

Northern Arizona Healthcare invested close to $1 million annually 2012-2018 in its school-based program, Fit Kids of Northern Arizona. If every other major hospital group in the state did the same, that would provide approximately $100M/year in new money to schools to improve physical education and physical activity.

Fit Kids provided a full-time health aide at each of ~20 participating K-8 public school in the greater Flagstaff, Williams and Verde Valley areas. This included close to 10,000 students, including many lower-income, Latino and Native-American students at predominantly Title 1 schools.

Students engage in a mandatory additional 45 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), beyond existing recess and physical education time. Students also have the option to engage in additional physical activity at lunchtime and after-school, throughout the week. (The program also includes some nutrition education, plus clinical components for children with the greatest obesity & health challenges.)

Child obesity in this student population had been increasing rapidly. Fit Kids cut the growth rate of child obesity in half during its first two years, as evaluated by regular BMI measurements of students. This is a significant breakthrough nationally.

In addition, Fit Kids pays for itself annually. Physical activity costs of approximately $60-70 per student invested in Fit Kids are estimated, based on a range of health studies on obesity & MVPA, to save $75-100+/year per child in obesity-related costs, asthma, ADHD, behavioral health, and other child health conditions related to inactivity and unhealthy nutrition.

Review reports by Northern Arizona University (NAU) evaluating Fit Kids of Northern Arizona.