HARVARD PREVENTION RESEARCH CENTER at the HARVARD T.H. CHAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
for Nutrition and Physical Activity in Out-of-School-Time Programs
The OSNAP Goals for Nutrition and Physical Activity aim to help program leaders create healthier out-of-school environments for children.
They are based on current scientific evidence about healthy eating and physical activity, and have been developed for out-of-school settings like sport programs and afterschool programs, and can easily be modified for full-day programs like summer camps.
For each goal below, we provide a brief rationale and a few suggested strategies for putting them into practice. For more ideas on incorporating these goals into a program, check out the Tip Sheets in the Resources section. We also have an OSNAP glossary for any unfamiliar terms.
Keep parents involved and educated about healthy eating and physical activity so they can reinforce the goals at home. Use parent handouts and parent communications from Food & Fun After School to help develop and maintain these connections with parents.
GOALS # 1 and #2
Goal 1: Do not serve sugary drinks.
Goal 2: Do not allow sugary drinks to be brought in during program time.
Rationale: Children drink significantly more sugary beverages now than they did 20 years ago.
Sugary drinks (e.g., soda, sweetened iced teas, fruit punches, fruit drinks, and sports drinks) provide a lot of calories with little to no nutritional benefit. In fact, sugary drinks are the top source of added sugar in kids’ diets.
Drinking sugary beverages has been associated with obesity and dental cavities in children.
- Offer water instead of sugary drinks every day.
- Prevent vending-machine use during program time by setting a policy in your parent and staff handbook.
- Restrict children, staff, or other partner organizations from bringing drinks in from outside of the program.
- If you do serve 100% juice, limit servings to 4 ounces per day.
Serve water every day.
Rationale: Water is a great drink choice. It keeps kids hydrated and is calorie-free and almost cost-free from the tap!
Replacing caloric beverages with water at snack time and meals saves money and is an easy way to eliminate calories from sugary drinks.
- Serve tap water–it costs only pennies!
- Provide water in a pitcher with cups at the snack/meal table every day.
- Teach kids to drink whenever they are thirsty.
Offer a fruit and/or vegetable option at every meal and snack.
Rationale: Children should eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. However, most U.S. children only eat about 2 1/2 servings per day.
Even 100% fruit juice is not a good substitute for whole fruit because juice does not contain fiber.
Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They protect against heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and some cancers. The fiber and water in fruits and vegetables also help you feel full.
- Use taste tests to learn kids’ preferences and to find new fruits and vegetables that kids like.
- Cut and peel fruits and vegetables before serving so they are easier to eat.
Do not serve foods with trans fat.
Rationale: The type of fat you eat is more important than the total amount of fat in your diet.
Avoid foods with trans fat, which is a type of unhealthy fat. Trans fat has many harmful effects on your body.
Trans fat is commonly found in packaged bakery foods (like muffins, brownies, cookies, and crackers) and deep-fried foods (like chicken fingers, fish sticks, and french fries).
Be aware that products with nutrition labels that say 0 trans fat can still have up to 0.49 grams per serving.
- Avoid foods with the words “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the ingredient list; this means the food contains trans fat.
- Read nutrition labels and only select foods with 0g of trans fat.
- Review vendor lists and only order foods without trans fat.
When serving grains (like bread, crackers, and cereals), serve whole grains.
Rationale: Whole grains contain fiber, vitamins, and healthy fats that can lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. They can also help you feel full longer.
Refined “white” flour and sugar do not have these nutrients or health benefits.
Serve whole grains instead of refined grains whenever possible. Whole-grain options are often available at the same price as refined options.
- Select breads, crackers, and, cereals that list a whole grain as the first ingredient on the label (for example, whole wheat, barley, oats, or rye).
- Select foods containing at least 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar or less per serving.
GOALS #7 and #8
Goal 7. Eliminate broadcast and cable TV and movies.
Goal 8. Limit computer and digital device use to homework or instructional time.
Rationale: Children should spend no more than a total of 2 hours each day watching TV, playing video games, and being online for noneducational purposes.
These activities can lead to overeating, less physical activity, and a higher risk for becoming overweight.
Watching TV may also influence children to make unhealthy food choices because they see a lot of advertisements for foods that are high in sugars and calories.
Setting limits on kids’ TV, video game, and computer time is important for their health.
- Remove TVs or cover them with a cloth so they can’t be seen.
- Try new indoor games or an arts and crafts project if weather limits outdoor playtime.
- Have a list of additional activities that children can do instead of having free time on the internet.
GOALS #9 and #10
Goal 9. Provide all children with 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
Goal 10. Offer 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity 3 days per week.
Rationale: Children 6-17 years old need at least 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. Most of this activity should be moderate or vigorous physical activity. Children should participate in vigorous activity at least 3 days per week.
Examples of moderate physical activity are bike riding, hopscotch, and playground play. Vigorous activities like running, basketball, and aerobic dancing are more intense and make you sweat.
Regular physical activity is important for preventing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.
- Schedule at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Use short activity breaks if you can’t plan for 30 minutes all at once.
- Convert cafeteria or classroom areas for dance or fitness if space is limited.