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PE-Nut™: A Whole-school Intervention

Jun 09, 2016

PE-Nut is a multi-level intervention that teaches nutrition concepts and promotes physical activity. It offers students opportunities to apply what they learn by engaging in taste testings and various physical activities; creating a school environment that supports healthy behaviors; initiating classroom and school policy changes; and sending messages into the home.

Each of the four program components was developed to teach children why and how to make healthy food choices, the importance of physical activity, and the skills necessary to be active for life. One of the components, Healthy Classrooms, Healthy Schools, focuses on transforming the classroom environment through healthy snack policies; healthy school meal and vending machine options; visual cues and messaging in the classroom and throughout the school; role modeling by teachers and students; classroom policies for not using food as rewards; and healthy classroom party policies. These serve as examples that collectively result in positive shifts in social norms that are prevalent in schools.

PE-Nut program graphic

Type of Program

Practice-tested school based nutrition education and physical activity promotion program

Years of Implementation

2006-Current

Number of Participants

Approximately 55,000 students in Michigan and their families

Target Audience

Elementary school students and their families

Program Evaluation

The PE-Nut Compendium of Tools™ is the evaluation toolkit used for PE-Nut™. In addition to this Compendium, BMI data has been collected. 

Program outcome evaluations have built the evidence base with indicators that match those in the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework to establish the PE-Nut™ program as a best practice intervention for increasing student consumption of healthy foods and physical activity. The success of PE-Nut™ comes from its multi-level approach to interventions.

Statistics and Program Impact

Overweight/obese students at PE-Nut schools improved their overall BMI by 2.9 percentiles from 2008-2012.

Normal weight students were able to maintain their BMI-z score, and for the overweight/obese weight group students experienced a small decrease in their BMI-z score compared to students who did not participate in PE-Nut.
Data collected from 1,836 students, using That’s Me: My Choices, in 2011-12 indicated student behaviors improved for:

  • hand washing (pre=62%, post=76%)
  • eating a variety of foods (37% to 61%)
  • trying new foods (30% to 51%)
  • eating healthy foods (35% to 66%)
  • sking parents to buy healthy foods (25% to 50%)

In addition, Parents (n=1,207) reported their children were eating more fruit (27%) and vegetables (39%) compared to before receiving PE-Nut.


This article was submitted by the Michigan Fitness Foundation For further information please contact Mary Grill. All logos are used with permission.