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Challenge! in Middle Schools

About Us

Challenge! in Middle Schools is an obesity prevention and health promotion program targeting urban African American adolescent girls in Baltimore City middle schools. The primary goal of the study is to evaluate the impact of a multi-level intervention on adolescent girls' body composition, diet and physical activity. The study consists of both an environmental intervention as well as a small group intervention.

The environmental intervention is implemented through the formation of a Healthy & Activity Committee (HAC) consisting of students, parents, teachers and community leaders. The HAC is responsible for organizing and implementing changes to create a healthier school environment. The small group intervention, based on the original Challenge! program, is implemented during the lunch period and after school to a subset of middle-school girls. These meetings are held at the school as well as the local Y of Central Maryland facilities. Middle-school girls learn about healthy diet and exercise behaviors and how to set behavior change goals.

Currently, the project has completed both the small group and school-based interventions and is in the final data collection phase.


Child Measures

Child Measures:

  • Body composition
  • Diet
  • Physical activity
  • Blood pressure
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Self-reported questionnaire of stages of puberty
  • Perceived body size
  • Psychosocial Variables (Self-efficacy, depression, eating attitudes, coping strategies, peer relationships)
  • Internal and external school perceived environment

Caregiver Measures

Caregiver Measures:

  • Demographic information
  • Eating attitudes
  • Depression screening
  • Feeding questionnaire
  • Food insecurity questionnaire

School Enrivonment

School Environment:

  • School Resource Environmental Checklist (SchREC)
  • St. Louis Audit Tool
  • School Observation Environmental Checklist (SchOEC)

Principal Investigator 

Maureen Black, Ph.D
Principal Investigator 

University of Maryland, School of Medicine

Team Members


Jean Anliker, PhD
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Carlo DiClemente, PhD
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Joel Gittelsohn, PhD
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Erin Hager, PhD
University of Maryland, School of Medicine

Laurence Magder, PhD
University of Maryland, School of Medicine

Soren Snitker, MD, PhD
University of Maryland, School of Medicine

Margarita Treuth, PhD
University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Project Coordinators & Research Staff

Samantha Wilkes
Project Coordinator

Raquel Arbaiza, MS
Data Manager

Stefani Nicole Baca
Intervention Coordinator

Yan Wang, MD, PhD
Data Analyst

Data Collectors

Shannon Fitzmaurice

Jessica Joyner