Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Challenges and Opportunities in After-School Programs: Providers’ Perspectives
Child Health & Education
The purpose of this study was to understand after-school program providers’ perspectives of (a) current physical activity and nutrition curriculum, practices, and challenges, and (b) necessary modifications, program suggestions or resource needs to improve the healthy eating and active living practices within their after-school program for children aged 6 to 12 years. This qualitative study targeted a sample of nine after-school program providers in London, Ontario. Data was collected via in-depth interviews and a demographic survey between January and April 2009. Strategies to enhance data trustworthiness were incorporated throughout. After-school program providers identified insufficient healthy eating curriculum and requested interactive, engaging activities to augment existing curriculum. Physical activity opportunities were incorporated more frequently; however, barriers such as equipment, space, and adapting activities to meet developmental needs and abilities of all children in after-school programs remained challenging. Findings support the development of additional healthy eating and active living program resources and training for after-school program providers. After-school programs enhanced by effective nutrition and physical activity components might create supportive educational environments for building children’s lifelong healthy eating and active living behaviours.