HealthCorps Proven Effective in Preventing Obesity in Children

Last month, HealthCorps founder Dr. Mehmet Oz (author and heart surgeon) presented findings of a recent study on the impact of HealthCorps Coordinators in their communities.

Dr. Oz, HealthCorps Founder

Dr. Oz, HealthCorps Founder

A new study on HealthCorps—a school-based educational and mentoring program modeled after the Peace Corps—shows that its students are “reducing soda consumption, exercising more and developing a better understanding of healthy behaviors.” The study looked at 971 high school students enrolled in 11 New York City high schools (although HealthCorps operates in 50 schools in nine states across the United States).

The two-year study was conducted by Professor John Cawley, Ph.D., in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. Cawley’s research includes a range of topics connected to the “economics of obesity” like the “effect of body weight on labor market outcomes such as wage rates, unemployment, employment disability, and the transition from welfare to work, and  “the role of body weight in adolescent behavior, such as smoking and sexual activity.”

Dr. Oz said, who presented the study’s findings in June, said:

“These findings underscore the effectiveness of our peer mentoring program in our mission to stem child obesity and diabetes among underserved populations across the country. While no one program can be a panacea for the health issues plaguing America’s youth, the HealthCorps program is an effective path forward in tackling at least two of the CDC’s principal target areas for the prevention of childhood obesity (decrease soda consumption, increase breast feeding, increase intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, decrease television viewing and increase physical activity.)”

The newest class of HealthCorps participants (called Coordinators) is currently engaged in a month-long training in New York City. On July 6, the program inaugurated the training month with a special ceremony and reception in New York City at the site of HealthCorps’ first pilot school. Training will end on July 30 with a trip to Katchkie Farm, an organic farm in Kinderhook, New York.

Then the Coordinators will fan out to high schools across the country at the start of the school year as full-time health educators and mentors carrying out the organization’s curriculum on nutrition, fitness and mental resiliency. HealthCorps Coordinators are recent college graduates with a strong interest in pursuing medical school or graduate health studies after their two-year term.

Read more about what Coordinators do, testimonials of Coordinators about their service, and how to apply.

6 thoughts on “HealthCorps Proven Effective in Preventing Obesity in Children

  1. Wow, I didn’t know Dr. Oz founded this organization – very cool. Even better the results of the study! I need to find out more about the people running HealthCorps and highlight them on the blog. Thanks!

  2. He’s been a big supporter of Service Nation too, I guess because of his commitment to HealthCorps. I didn’t mention it in the post, but HealthCorps is independently funded — not part of AmeriCorps — so it’s interesting to me and unique in that regard.

  3. I’ve had a few people ask me about opportunities to do this kind of work for AmeriCorps.
    I thought there were plans in the works at the very least. It’s very cool to hear this!

    I wish Obama would have mentioned this in last night’s health care press conference as a model that could be duplicated nation-wide. Perhaps it could go hand in hand with plans to incentivize General Practice as opposed to $pecialitie$. Provide the Health Coordinators a free year of Med School or something.

    Yeesh, it’s not cheap to even apply and go through that process I’ve been told!

  4. Hey Marissa,
    That would have been amazing if he’d talked about HealthCorps in a prime time news conference!

    So a couple things are in the works —

    1. A proposal to fund med school for former AmeriCorps and Peace Corps folks (which wouldn’t at this point include HealthCorps Coordinators).


    2. The Kennedy Serve America Act, which as you probably well know, is struggling to get full funding, does call for a Healthy Futures Corps which has similar aims (see (viii) below:


    ‘(A) IN GENERAL- The recipient may carry out national service programs through a Healthy Futures Corps that identifies and meets unmet health needs within communities through activities such as those described in subparagraph (B) and improves performance on the indicators described in subparagraph (C).

    ‘(B) ACTIVITIES- A Healthy Futures Corps described in this paragraph may carry out activities such as–

    ‘(i) assisting economically disadvantaged individuals in navigating the health services system;

    ‘(ii) assisting individuals in obtaining access to health services, including oral health services, for themselves or their children;

    ‘(iii) educating economically disadvantaged individuals and individuals who are members of medically underserved populations about, and engaging individuals described in this clause in, initiatives regarding navigating the health services system and regarding disease prevention and health promotion, with a particular focus on common health conditions, chronic diseases, and conditions, for which disease prevention and health promotion measures exist and for which socioeconomic, geographic, and racial and ethnic health disparities exist;

    ‘(iv) improving the literacy of patients regarding health, including oral health;

    ‘(v) providing translation services at clinics and in emergency rooms to improve health services;

    ‘(vi) providing services designed to meet the health needs of rural communities, including the recruitment of youth to work in health professions in such communities;

    ‘(vii) assisting in health promotion interventions that improve health status, and helping people adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles and habits to improve health status;

    ‘(viii) addressing childhood obesity through in-school and after-school physical activities, and providing nutrition education to students, in elementary schools and secondary schools; or

    ‘(ix) providing activities, addressing unmet health needs, that the Corporation may designate.

    ‘(C) HEALTHY FUTURES CORPS INDICATORS- The indicators for a corps program described in this paragraph are–

    ‘(i) access to health services among economically disadvantaged individuals and individuals who are members of medically underserved populations;

    ‘(ii) access to health services for uninsured individuals, including such individuals who are economically disadvantaged children;

    ‘(iii) participation, among economically disadvantaged individuals and individuals who are members of medically underserved populations, in disease prevention and health promotion initiatives, particularly those with a focus on addressing common health conditions, addressing chronic diseases, and decreasing health disparities;

    ‘(iv) literacy of patients regarding health;

    ‘(v) any additional indicator, relating to improving or protecting the health of economically disadvantaged individuals and individuals who are members of medically underserved populations, that the Corporation, in consultation (as appropriate) with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, establishes; or

    ‘(vi) any additional local indicator (applicable to a particular recipient and on which an improvement in performance is needed) relating to improving or protecting the health of economically disadvantaged individuals and individuals who are members of medically underserved populations, that is approved by the Corporation or a State Commission.

  5. We work with Wellness at large hospital systems in Florida,
    and it is wonderful to see Health Corps progress with kids!
    I’ve told everyone possible to promote the wellbeing of our
    youth, as we indeed are whatever we eat-and habits start
    early! My daughter has learned already that we avoid the
    ‘sugars’ and spreads her knowledge, although only 4, onto
    her peers! It makes me proud to see people positively improving by becoming more active and better choices! 🙂

  6. nice post..yes early education on such thing is great. until the kids reach “old enough phase” where they “old enough” to know what they can and can’t do if they want to not just live longer, but live better.

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