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School-based primary NCD risk reduction: education and public health perspectives

08 Dec 2016


The rising global burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) has heightened awareness of the necessity for primary risk prevention programmes. These aim to facilitate long-term behaviour changes in children and adolescents that can reduce NCD risk factors and disease onset in later-life. School-based programmes designed to improve childhood and adolescent health behaviours and wellbeing contribute to this; however, design and impact assessment of these is complex. These programmes should be multidisciplinary, utilizing both educational and health expertise. Health outcomes may not be evident in the short term, but may occur with learning-related behaviour modifications, highly effective when sustained over a lifetime. Thus assessment must analyse short-term learning and behaviour impacts as well as long-term capability, behaviour and health outcomes.The focus of assessment measures in the health and education sectors differs and often lacks depth in one or other area. Educators generally focus on identifying evidence of learning related to capability, attitude and/or behaviour changes, while public health practitioners typically focus on health measures (e.g. body mass index (BMI), mental health, or risk behaviours).We argue that multidisciplinary approaches incorporating education and health viewpoints clarify issues relating to the potential value of schools as a setting to facilitate primary NCD risk reduction. To demonstrate this, we need to: 1) build stronger understandings of the features of effective learning for behavioural change and the best way to evaluate these, and 2) convincingly correlate these measures with long-term metabolic health indicators by tracking learner behaviour and health over time.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Health Promotion International