Outcome Evaluation of a Policy-Mandated Lifestyle and Environmental Modification Program in a National Job Training Center.
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Excess weight gain is common when adolescents become young adults, but there are no obesity prevention or weight management interventions that have been tested for emerging adults who follow non-traditional post-secondary paths, such as enrolling in job training programs. We evaluated Healthy Eating & Active Lifestyles (HEALs), a policy-mandated lifestyle education/environmental modification program, at a job training center for low-income 16-24 year olds. We examined average change in body mass index (BMI) z-score from baseline to 6 months for emerging adults (aged 16-24 years) in pre-HEALs implementation (n = 125) and post-HEALs implementation (n = 126) cohorts living at the job training center, by baseline weight status. In both cohorts, average BMI z-score significantly increased from baseline to 6 months for students with BMI < 25. Average BMI z-score significantly decreased for the overweight (BMI 25 to <30; -0.11, p = .03) and obese (BMI ≥ 30; -0.11, p = .001) students only within the post-HEALs cohort; changes within the pre-HEALs cohort and between cohorts were not significant. HEALs may promote positive weight-related trends for overweight/obese students, but prevention efforts for non-overweight/obese students need to be improved.