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Assessing the outcomes and acceptability of healthy lifestyles for Youth Corps members: phase 2 of a multi-phase project




Kissane, Katharine Roseanne, author
Anderson, Jennifer, advisor
Trumbo, Craig W., committee member
Bellows, Laura Leigh, committee member

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Background: Obesity is a costly condition that can reduce quality of life and increase the risk of several chronic diseases. Obesity has a multi-factorial etiology, which includes genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors (Baranowski 2000). Such a complex disease needs a complex solution such as changing public policy and the environment. In addition, people must be given knowledge and self-efficacy to live healthy lifestyles. The obesity epidemic is not limited to adults. Childhood obesity is a growing problem. In 1980, 6.5% of children aged 12-19 years were obese and this number increased statistically to 19.6% in 2008 (CDC 2010). According to the 2007 National Survey of Childhood Health the obesity rate in Colorado for youth ages 10-17 is 14.2%. Children in Colorado are ranked 29th out of the 50 states for obesity (Trust for America's Health 2010). The committee on prevention of obesity in children and youth encourages the evaluation of interventions that focus on preventing an increase in obesity prevalence, improving dietary behaviors, increasing physical activity levels, and reducing sedentary behaviors (Koplan et al 2005). There are several obesity prevention and intervention programs targeting youth, however, most of these efforts have been school-based or limited to school-aged children. The Youth Conservation Corps is a population not reached though these efforts. Traditionally, many of the youth employed by the Youth Corps have been low-income, at-risk, and ethnic minorities. There are currently no prevention programs targeting this audience and there have been no previous efforts addressing the health outcome of Youth Conservation Corps members. Objective: The first objective of this project (phase 2) was to revise the Healthy Lifestyle for Youth Corps Members curriculum based upon the pilot test with 13 corps members of phase 1 of the project. The second objective for phase 2 of this project was to implement the Healthy Lifestyles for Youth Corps Members and analyze changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding healthy lifestyles. Methods: Revisions to the curriculum were made based on the data collected during the first phase of the project and from suggestions made by researchers at Colorado State University and the Colorado Youth Corps Association. Data used in assessing changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behavior was collected using a survey that was tested for validity and reliability prior to implementation. In addition, the acceptability of the program was assessed by feedback from the corps members provided via the post-survey and crew leaders' instructor notes pages, which were located at the end of each unit specifically for crew leaders to fill out and offer feedback. Implementation and control group sites included Western Colorado Conservation Corps, Mile High Youth Conservation Corps, Larimer County Youth Conservation Corps, Southwest Conservation Corps -Four Corners and Southwest conservation Corps- Las Valles. Results: One hundred corps members in Colorado completed the program, 58 from the implementation group and 42 from the control group. The average age of all the participants was 20 years. When testing for knowledge only two questions had significant results. Many of the knowledge questions had a ceiling effect, as the corps members already knew the answer leaving no room for improvement. In addition, many of the corps members were already engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors prior to the implementation of the Healthy Lifestyles Curriculum. Feedback from the crew leaders and corps members suggested that the curriculum was too basic and they suggested that the curriculum should contain more in depth information. However, there were corps members who enjoyed the curriculum and the younger corps members generally rated the curriculum as more acceptable. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that this sample of Colorado Youth Corps members in this study were not representative of all Colorado Youth Corps. The average age of participants in 2009 was 18 years and in our study, the average age was 20 years. In addition, in 2009 there was more ethnic diversity than the sample in phase 2. Many corps members in this study already had the knowledge about living healthy lifestyles. Changes to the curriculum could include combining units 2 and 3 and units 4 and 5. In addition, incorporating more in depth information could enhance the effectiveness of this curriculum in the future.


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Youth Corps
healthy lifestyles
obesity prevention
physical activity


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