Power-up: a collaborative after-school program to prevent obesity in African American children.

Shahid Choudhry*, Lori McClinton-Powell, Marla Solomon, Dawnavan Davis, Rebecca Lipton, Amy Darukhanavala, Althera Steenes, Kavitha Selvaraj, Katherine Gielissen, Lorne Love, Renee Salahuddin, Frank K. Embil, Dezheng Huo, Marshall H. Chin, Michael T. Quinn, Deborah L. Burnet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Schools represent a key potential venue for addressing childhood obesity. To assess the feasibility of Power-Up, an after-school program to decrease obesity risk among African American children, using community-based participatory research (CBPR) principles. Teachers led 14 weekly nutrition and physical activity sessions during afterschool care at the Woodlawn Community School on Chicago's South Side. Forty African American children ages 5 to 12 participated; their 28 parents discussed similar topics weekly at pickup time, and families practiced relevant skills at home. Pre- and post-intervention anthropometrics, blood pressure, dietary measures, and health knowledge and beliefs for children and parents were compared in univariate analysis. At baseline, 26% of children were overweight; 28% were obese. Post-intervention, mean body mass index (BMI) z scores decreased from 1.05 to 0.81 (p<.0001). Changes were more pronounced for overweight (-0.206 z-score units) than for obese children (-0.062 z-score units; p=.01). Girls decreased their combined prevalence of overweight/obesity from 52% to 46%; prevalence across these categories did not change for boys. The prevalence of healthful attitudes rose, including plans to "eat more foods that are good for you" (77% to 90%; p=.027) and "planning to try some new sports" (80% to 88%; p=.007). Children in the Power-Up program reduced mean BMI z scores significantly. The after-school venue proved feasible. The use of CBPR principles helped to integrate Power-Up into school activities and contributed to likelihood of sustainability. Engaging parents effectively in the afterschool time frame proved challenging; additional strategies to engage parents are under development. Plans are underway to evaluate this intervention through a randomized study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-373
Number of pages11
JournalProgress in community health partnerships : research, education, and action
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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