Bright Spot: Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH)

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This bright spot was originally published in the 100 Million Healthier Lives Change Library and is brought to you through partnership with 100 Million Healthier Lives and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.


Detailed Description

Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) is a program that is designed to prevent childhood obesity and launch kids and communities toward healthier lifestyles. CATCH programs include CATCH K-8 for schools, CATCH Early Childhood for preschools, and CATCH Kids Club for after-school and summer camp settings.

Expected Outcomes

Numerous peer-reviewed research studies have shown CATCH to be effective in changing dietary and physical activity behaviors and in reducing the onset of childhood overweight and obesity. In the initial randomized controlled trial, implementation of CATCH led to a statistically significant reduction in unhealthy fat intake and significantly more physical activity compared to the control group (Luepker et al., 1996). Three years later, this cohort had maintained these improvements in diet and physical activity levels (Nader et al., 1999). A replication study of CATCH in El Paso, TX led to a significant 11% difference between treatment and control children in preventing the onset of overweight and obesity (Coleman et al., 2005).

Cost Details

Please contact CATCH for further cost details

Key Steps for Implementation

CATCH is based on the CDC's Coordinated School Health model and impacts four aspects of a child's learning environment: classroom, physical education, nutrition services (cafeteria), and family. The first step to a successful implementation is training. CATCH offers implementation trainings for wellness teams, classroom teachers, physical education instructors, and nutrition services staff, as well as train-the-trainer options for larger school districts and organizations. The resources provided to each school include:

  1. The Go For Health classroom curriculum which teaches students to identify, practice, and adopt healthy nutrition and physical activity behaviors
  2. Take-home activities and parent tip sheets to engage and educate families
  3. The CATCH PE teacher guide and activity boxes; and
  4. 4.The CATCH Eat Smart guide for nutrition services staff. In addition to addressing the classroom, physical education, cafeteria, and home settings Individual/family, CATCH provides a Coordination Toolkit that includes specific actions for increasing school-wide collaboration and creating a healthier environment for all students.


A cost-effectiveness study found the cost-effectiveness ratio for CATCH, or the intervention costs per quality-adjusted life years (QALY), to be $889.68. Historically, the U.S. adopts health care treatments that cost less than $50,000 per QALY; therefore, the CATCH program is an excellent public investment. The CATCH program costs $68,125 less per person than the estimated present value of future costs incurred if the person were not exposed to the CATCH program.11 11. Brown HS, Perez A, Li YP, Hoelscher DM, Kelder SH, Rivera R. The cost-effectiveness of a school-based overweight program. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2007;4:47

Required Staffing (FTEs)

Variable depending upon the organization


CATCH Training Workshops have been developed and refined over a 20 year period and are fun, dynamic and multi-dimensional clinics designed to provide the knowledge, skills and tools to successfully implement and support your CATCH Program. Following training, CATCH helps by offering a variety of resources and services including:

  • CATCH Champion recruitment and support
  • On-campus family fun nights
  • Pre/post surveys and evaluation assistance
  • Follow-up visits and mid-course adjustments
  • Online resource library
  • Online booster training
  • Support from CATCH program experts via phone or email

Types of Staff

  • Physical Education Educator
  • Classroom Teachers
  • Nutritionist
  • CATCH Coordinator
  • School Administrator

Return on Investment Details

  • The University of Texas School of Public Health's
  • Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Flaghouse Horizon Foundation
  • Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas
  • RGK Foundation
  • National Head Start Association.

Evaluation Strategies and Data Collection Tools

Pre/Post surveys and evaluation

Outcome Measures

  • Increase in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during and outside of school Increase in fruit and vegetable consumption and other "Go" foods
  • Decrease in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and other "Whoa" foods which are low nutrient and energy dense
  • Decrease in overweight and obesity

Process Measures

  • CATCH Trainings (multiple)
  • Cafeteria
  • Family and community
  • Physical Education|Classroom

 Related Topics

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Physical Activity

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Children and Youth

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Childhood Obesity