School Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPAN)

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Project Overview

The School Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) Project is a Texas-wide surveillance system which monitors trends in body mass index (BMI) of school-aged children in the 2nd, 4th, 8th, and 11th grades within racial/ethnic, gender, and geographic subpopulations. Funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services, and conducted by the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin, SPAN survey data have been collected in Texas at four time points using a cross-sectional questionnaire (years 2000-2002, 2004-2005, 2009-2011, 2015-2016). In addition to monitoring the prevalence of school-aged children with overweight and obesity in Texas, SPAN identifies factors in Texas students that may underlie obesity, including dietary behaviors. nutrition knowledge and attitudes, and physical activity.

Research details and past surveys are available on the Details tab (see above).

Visit our online SPAN Data Explorer.

Project Details

SPAN is a surveillance system to monitor the prevalence of overweight/obesity in school-aged children in Texas. This surveillance system allows researchers to identify and track trends in childhood obesity. SPAN identifies factors in Texas students that may underlie obesity, including dietary behaviors, nutrition knowledge and attitudes, and physical activity. The current SPAN will include probability based sampling of students in 4th, 8th, and 11th grade, with a concurrent sampling of 2nd grade student parents, and a Texas-Mexico border-specific sample. A paper detailing the main results of SPAN for 2015-2016 is currently in process.

Who conducts it?

The SPAN Project is conducted by researchers at the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin, with funding from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

Partners of the SPAN Project include:

  • Texas Department of State Health Services
  • West Texas (Panhandle) Area Health Education Center (AHEC)
  • Area Health Education Center of the Plains
  • HSR 4/5 Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Community Health Program
  • Greater Houston Area Heath Education Center
  • Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Department of Border Health
  • Desert Mountain AHEC
  • City of El Paso Health Department Office of Border Public Health (OBPH), Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)
  • Area Health Education Center of the Mid Rio Grande Border Area
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Nursing
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in San Antonio 
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Brownsville

What kind of information is collected during SPAN?

SPAN data collection consists of (1) administration of a questionnaire which assesses food choice behaviors, food selection skills, weight perceptions and practices, nutrition knowledge, attitudes about food and eating, and physical activity behaviors; (2) height and weight measurements; (3) school environment observations including a vending machine audit, healthy signage observations, and a school-level health policy questionnaire.


Research Details

Years Administered:

  • 2000-2002
  • 2004-2005
  • 2009-2011
  • 2015-2016
  • 2019-2020 upcoming

Population: Texas students and their parents

  • 2000-2002: 4th, 8th and 11th graders
  • 2004-2005: 4th, 8th and 11th graders
  • 2009-2011: 4th graders and their parents; 8th and 11th graders
  • 2015-2016: 2nd graders and their parents; 4th, 8th and 11th graders
  • 2019-2020: 2nd graders and their parents; 4th, 8th and 11th graders

Sample Size:

  • 2000-2002: 15,164 students
  • 2004-2005: 23,190 students
  • 2009-2011: 14,191 students and 3,733 parents
  • 2015-2016: 15,236 students and 2,317 parents
  • 2019-2020: Intention for 19,900 students and 6,920 parents

Past Questionnaires:

Past versions of the SPAN Questionnaire are available below in PDF format.

4th Grade

8th-11th Grade

Parents

2000-2002

English / Spanish English / Spanish -

2004-2005

English / Spanish English / Spanish -

2009-2011

English / Spanish English / Spanish English / Spanish

2015-2016

English / Spanish English / Spanish English / Spanish


Validation/reliability (4
th grade):

Thiagarajah K, Fly AD, Hoelscher DM, Bai Y, Lo K, Leone A, Shertzer JA.  Validating the food behavior questions from the elementary school SPAN questionnaire.  J Nutr Ed Behav.  2006; 38/ 4; S55.

Penkilo M, George G, Hoelscher DM. Reproducibility of the School Based Nutrition Monitoring Questionnaire among Fourth Grade Students in Texas. J Nutr Ed Behav. 2008: 40/1; 20-27.

Validation/reliability (8th grade):

Hoelscher DM, Day RS, Kelder SH & Ward JL (2003) Reproducibility and validity of the secondary level School-Based Nutrition Monitoring student questionnaire. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 103(2),186-94.

Additional references and citations are available by clicking the Publications tab above.

General information about use of the SPAN Survey:

  • The SPAN Questionnaire is not copyrighted and may be used without written permission from the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin.
  • We ask that we are cited in any manuscripts (see Publications tab) using the SPAN tools.
  • We are also happy to help anyone wanting to use the survey tools with needed protocols, analysis directions, and logistics in conducting research using the SPAN tools. Please contact the SPAN Project Director, Carolyn Smith at Carolyn.L.Smith@uth.tmc.edu

People: 

Deanna M. Hoelscher, PhD, RDN, LD, CNS, FISBNPA
Principal Investigator 

Nalini Ranjit, PhD
Co-Investigator 

Adriana Perez, PhD
Co-Investigator 

Carolyn Smith
Project Director

Claire Niday
Research Assistant

Kyna Farmer
Research Assistant

Pablo Martinez
Programmer

Christine Jovanovic, MPH
Dell Health Scholar

Amanda Reat
Graduate Research Assistant

Thumbnail image for Child Obesity Crisis in Texas

Child Obesity Crisis in Texas

2/11/19 - Healthy Children, Healthy State. A one-pager on the child obesity crisis in Texas from the Texas Child Health Status Report Project.

Thumbnail image for Child Obesity in Texas

Child Obesity in Texas

9/20/17 - Child obesity rates and statistics on obesity-related health behaviors from the 2015-2016 SPAN Survey results.

Thumbnail image for Obesidad Infantil en Texas

Obesidad Infantil en Texas

9/20/17 - Las tasas de obesidad infantil y las estadísticas sobre los comportamientos de salud relacionados con la obesidad a partir de los resultados de la encuesta SPAN 2015-2016.

Thumbnail image for 2015-2016 SPAN Fact Sheets

2015-2016 SPAN Fact Sheets

9/19/17 - Download detailed 2015-2016 SPAN Survey results, sorted into one-page fact sheets by grade (2nd, 4th, 8th, and 11th) and Health Service Region.

Thumbnail image for Child Obesity in Texas infographic (One-Page Printable)

Child Obesity in Texas infographic (One-Page Printable)

9/1/14 - Child obesity rates and statistics on obesity-related health behaviors from the 2009-2011 SPAN Survey.

Thumbnail image for SPAN Survey Fact Sheets

SPAN Survey Fact Sheets

9/1/14 - Download detailed 2009-2011 SPAN Survey results, sorted into one-page fact sheets by grade (4th, 8th, and 11th) and Health Service Region.

Thumbnail image for Child Obesity in Texas infographic

Child Obesity in Texas infographic

9/1/14 - Child obesity rates and statistics on obesity-related health behaviors from the 2009-2011 SPAN Survey.

Thumbnail image for Training on Measuring Heights & Weights

Training on Measuring Heights & Weights

6/12/13 - In this video we demonstrate the proper protocol for conducting height and weight measurements.

Thumbnail image for Entrenamiento Para Medir Alturas y Pesos

Entrenamiento Para Medir Alturas y Pesos

6/1/13 - En este video se demuestra el protocolo adecuado para la realización de medidas de altura y peso.

Perceived Weight and Bullying Victimization in Boys and Girls.

(Carey FR, Wilkinson AV, Ranjit N, Mandell D, Hoelscher DM. Journal of school health. 2018 Mar;88(3):217-26.)

Bullied Status and Physical Activity in Texas Adolescents

(Case KR, Pérez A, Saxton DL, Hoelscher DM, Springer AE; Health Educ Behav; 2015)

Socioeconomic inequalities in children's diet: the role of the home food environment

(Ranjit N, Wilkinson AV, Lytle LM, Evans AE, Saxton D, Hoelscher DM; Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act; 2015)

The association between sports participation and dietary behaviors among fourth graders in the School Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey, 2009-2010

(Dortch KS, Gay J, Springer, AE, Kohl, HW, Sharma, SV, Saxton, DL, Hoelscher, DM.; American Journal of Health Promotion, 2014)

Environmental characteristics and student physical activity in PE class: findings from two large urban areas of Texas

(Skala KA, Springer AE, Sharma SV, Hoelscher DM, Kelder SH; J Phys Act Health; 2012)

The effects of acculturation on healthy lifestyle characteristics among Hispanic 4th grade children in Texas public schools, 2004-2005

(Lind C, Mirchandani GG, Castrucci BC, Chavez N, Handler A, Hoelscher DM; J Sch Health; 2012)

Association between depressed mood and perceived weight in middle and high school age students: Texas 2004-2005

(Schiefelbein EL, Mirchandani GG, George GC, Becker EA, Castrucci BC, Hoelscher DM; Matern Child Health; 2012)

Are adolescents' perceptions of dietary practices associated with their dietary behaviors?

(Velazquez CE, Pasch KE, Ranjit N, Mirchandani G, Hoelscher DM; J Am Diet Assoc; 2011)

Physical activity, watching television, and the risk of obesity in students, Texas, 2004-2005

(Pérez A, Hoelscher DM, Springer AE, Brown HS, Barroso CS, Kelder SH, Castrucci BC; Prev Chronic Dis; 2011)

Physical activity participation by parental language use in 4th, 8th, and 11th grade students in Texas, USA

(Springer AE, Lewis K, Kelder SH, Fernandez ME, Barroso CS, Hoelscher DM; J Immigr Minor Health; 2010)

Dietary and activity correlates of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among adolescents

(Ranjit N, Evans MH, Byrd-Williams C, Evans AE, Hoelscher DM; Pediatrics; 2010)

Parental influences on television watching among children living on the Texas-Mexico border

(Springer AE, Kelder SH, Barroso CS, Drenner KL, Shegog R, Ranjit N, Hoelscher DM; Prev Med; 2010)

A descriptive study of beverage consumption among an ethnically diverse sample of public school students in Texas

(Evans AE, Springer AE, Evans MH, Ranjit N, Hoelscher DM; J Am Coll Nutr; 2010)

Changes in the regional prevalence of child obesity in 4th, 8th, and 11th grade students in Texas from 2000-2002 to 2004-2005

(Hoelscher DM, Kelder SH, Pérez A, Day RS, Benoit JS, Frankowski RF, Walker JL, Lee ES; Obesity; 2010)

Observable weight distributions and children's individual weight assessment

(Brown HS III, Evans AE, Mirchandani GG, Kelder SH, Hoelscher DM; Obesity; 2010)

Television viewing and snacking behaviors of fourth- and eight-grade schoolchildren in Texas

(Vader AM, Walters ST, Harris TR, Hoelscher DM; Prev Chronic Dis; 2009)

Validating the food behavior questions from the elementary school SPAN questionnaire

(Thiagarajah K, Fly AD, Hoelscher DM, Bai Y, Lo K, Leone A, Shertzer JA; J Nutr Educ Behav; 2008)

Crime rates and sedentary behavior among 4th grade Texas school children

(Brown HS, Pérez A, Mirchandani GG, Hoelscher DM, Kelder SH; Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act; 2008)

Differences in food consumption and meal patterns in Texas school children by grade

(Pérez A, Hoelscher DM, Brown HS, Kelder SH; Prev Chronic Dis; 2007)

Measuring the Prevalence of Overweight in Texas Schoolchildren

(Hoelscher DM, Day RS, Lee ES, Frankowski RF, Kelder SH, Ward JL, Scheurer ME; Am J Public Health; 2004)

Photo of Deanna Hoelscher

Deanna Hoelscher, PhD, RDN, LD, CNS, FISBNPA

Photo of Pablo Martinez

Pablo Martinez

TCORS YaYA – Database developer/Programmer Photo of Claire Niday

Claire Niday, MPH

Research Assistant, Texas SNAP-Ed Evaluation Photo of Adriana Pérez

Adriana Pérez, PhD

Photo of Nalini Ranjit

Nalini Ranjit, PhD

Principal Investigator, Texas SNAP-Ed Evaluation; Co-Principal Investigator, GAVA Evaluation Study Photo of Carolyn Smith

Carolyn Smith

Project Director, Texas SNAP-Ed Evaluation; School Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) Project Director; Texas Grow! Eat! Go! (TGEG)/Project Director; Texas Childhood Obesity Prevention Policy Evaluation (T-COPPE)/Project Coordinator

Texas Researchers Provide Startling Data Behind Why Over 25% of Latino Kids are Obese

Childhood obesity is getting worse over time, especially for Latinos. Researchers in Texas (39.4% Latino) recently released a data explorer that illustrates trends in body mass index of school-aged children in their state (52% Latino).