Comprehensive school health, the social determinants of health, and the health status of children
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As children are becoming increasingly inactive and obese, there is an urgent need for effective early prevention and intervention programs. One solution is a comprehensive school health (CSH) program, a health promotion initiative aimed at educating students about healthy behaviours and lifestyles, which also provides a link between the school, students, families, and the surrounding community. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between different components of CSH programs, as well as three determinants of health (gender, social support, socio-economic status), and physical activity, on the aerobic fitness and body mass index (BMI) of children. A newly developed and pilot-tested survey derived from Health Canada's fourpart CSH model (instruction, social support, support services, and a healthy physical environment) was sent to elementary school principals. Data on the gender, physical activity, parental education, and social support levels of students from these schools were gathered from a previous study. Multiple regression procedures were conducted to estimate the relationships between CSH components, the social determinants of health, physical activity, and BMI and aerobic fitness. Results showed that three CSH components were significantly associated with both BMI and aerobic fitness values in children, but accounted for less than 5% of the variance in both variables. Physical activity partially mediated the relationship between the significant CSH components, BMI, and particularly aerobic fitness. Furthermore, the social determinant and physical activity variables played independent roles in aerobic fitness values. No moderating effects of the social determinants were discovered.
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