Student Nutrition and Kids (SNAKS)

Principal Investigator
Gary Foster, Ph.D., UPenn Weight and Eating Disorders Program

Center for Disease Control & Prevention

Project Description
The SNAKS project aims to improve the health of public school children by demonstrating the positive impact of a series of intervention on their body-mass index and physical activity levels. The nonprofit Food Trust has been working with ten Philadelphia middle schools to implement changes in the food available to kids in schools as well as teach them about nutrition. The University of Pennsylvania’s Weight and Eating and Disorders Program is responsible for the evaluation component of the project. Their staff members are taking the height and weight of all children in the schools and have conducted a survey with 5th graders to determine how they get to school, what they eat on the way, and what they do after school.

As part of the program evaluation, the Cartographic Modeling Lab is using GIS and spatial analysis techniques to collect relevant field data and integrate information about the neighborhoods in which the kids live. The CML designed a data collection program using ArcPad, GIS software for hand-held PCs, in order to map the location of all food stores and recreation opportunities nearby the schools and to inventory the types of food available. The CML is integrating administrative data from its Philadelphia Neighborhood Information System (NIS) related to crime, housing conditions and abandonment, real estate sales, and housing construction and from the US Census. These data will be modeled with kid-level data to determine how neighborhood conditions impact BMI and choices relating to food consumption and physical activity. The CML has also designing a second ArcPad application to map the route that kids walk to school, to determine what stores are located within the most heavily traveled corridors, and how neighborhood crime and disorder influence choices about where to walk.

The final results for the study are not yet completed, by should be available sometime in late 2005/early 2006.

The Cartographic Modeling Lab
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Project News Coverage
  National interest in SNAKS has been strong, and the original article about the project by Susan Fitzgerald, for the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Health & Science section, has been syndicated to over 100 newspapers nationwide. Coverage for the project has also included various radio and television interviews. Coverage has included:
  The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Junkfood Geography”
  ABC World News Tonight
  Rob Reiner Productions
  KVEC radio 920 (California)
  NPR’s WHYY (Philadelphia)
Jim Coleman's "A Chef's Table"
  The Daily Pennsylvanian
  Harrisburg Patriot-News