Study shows 4-H youth healthier than peers

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According to recent findings from Tufts University, 4-H youth are engaging in positive healthy living behaviors more often than youth that do not participate in 4-H. According to the study, 4-H'ers, regardless of their background, socio-economic status, race, and gender, thrive through the health/safety education and experiences they receive through 4-H programming.

Youth development scholar, Dr. Richard Lerner, works with researchers at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University to conduct The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. The longitudinal study has found that, when compared to other youth, young people involved in 4-H are:

* More likely to spend more time exercising or being physically active;
* Two times less likely to engage in drug use;
* Two times less likely to use cigarettes or drink alcohol.

"The results of this longitudinal study continually reinforce the idea that when youth participate in programs such as 4-H, they thrive in numerous ways including health, positive development, and community contribution," said Dr. Lerner. "The comparisons we've made between 4-H youth and other young people highlight the considerable strengths and health of the young men and young women participating in 4-H around the country."

4-H Healthy Living programs are conducted by the 109 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System, and seek to address national issues including nutrition, physical fitness, substance abuse, safety, and social and emotional wellness.

"With nearly 2.7 million youth enrolled in 4-H healthy living programs in 2009, the findings from the Tufts study underline 4-H's unique ability to make a significant impact on the health and wellness of many of our nation's future leaders," said Donald T. Floyd, Jr., president and CEO of National 4-H Council. "Working in conjunction with the White House Let's Move! campaign and the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge, 4-H's extensive healthy living programs equip youth with the knowledge and skills that will prepare them physically, emotionally and socially to meet the challenges of the 21st century."

4-H National Headquarters, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and National 4-H Council have made a significant commitment to participate in the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge, aiming to have 100,000 4-H members complete the challenge by September 2011.

The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award recognizes those who log their recommended physical activity for six consecutive weeks, five days a week (60 minutes for kids, 30 minutes for adults). Visit http://www.presidentschallenge.org/natl4-Hfor more information. Lead by First Lady Michelle Obama, Let's Move! is working together with 4-H and other community organizations to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States. Visit www.letsmove.govfor more information.

For more information on 4-H Healthy Living initiatives, visit www.4-h.org.

About the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development

The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development is a longitudinal study which began in 2002, through the support of National 4-H Council. Youth development scholar, Dr. Richard Lerner, worked with researchers at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University to conduct the study. Youth are measured in "waves" across time which compared those that participate in 4-H to those that do not. The study is currently in wave seven. The 6,400 adolescents surveyed are racially and geographically diverse representing 34 states in the nation. For more information about the study visit www.4-h.org. Click on 'About 4-H' and then 'Research'.



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