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Great Body Shop

Ages 4-14

Rating: Level 3


The Great Body Shop (GBS), developed by the Children’s Health Market, is a comprehensive substance abuse and violence prevention and health curriculum for schools serving prekindergarten through middle school. The GBS curriculum contains a teachers guide, student issues and parent bulletins that support 10 monthly themes, which are taught through 40 lessons. A supplemental Coordinated School Health Kit links the eight components of school health with institutions involved in promoting public health among those who educate youth.

The monthly thematic units of GBS are developed from one grade level to the next according to State and national guidelines. Health topics addressed include injury prevention, personal safety, bullying, functions of the body, nutrition, community health and safety, character education, violence prevention, self-worth, growth and development, the cycle of family life, substance abuse prevention, HIV/AIDS and illness prevention, environmental health, consumer health, and physical fitness. Each grade level of the program from preschool through middle school is structured so that knowledge, values, life skills, and critical thinking skills are introduced through age-appropriate, familiar concepts. Weekly lessons, taught by classroom teachers, last from 10 to 15 minutes for preschool, 20 to 35 minutes at the primary level, and 45 to 60 minutes at the middle school level.


The program has been subjected to three independent evaluations. The curriculum was first evaluated using a quasi-experimental pretest and posttest design. In 1995 and 1998, sixth graders in a sample of schools using the Great Body Shop curriculum were compared with sixth graders in a matched sample of schools not using the curriculum. Using the Minnesota Student Survey, the study investigated whether students exposed to GBS engage in less-healthy risk behaviors, experience fewer health risks and more protective factors, and make greater gains in healthy behaviors and risk/protective factors than controls.

The second evaluation was conducted in Chicago, Ill., where the health education curriculum for prekindergarten through sixth grade students is based on GBS. An evaluation was done comparing 12 elementary schools that implemented the program in 2001 with 12 schools that delayed implementation. Pretests were given to second and fourth graders in the treatment and control groups; posttests were given at the end of the school year. During the 2nd year of implementation, a posttest was given comparing the second grade treatment cohort, now in third grade, with the pretest scores from the 2001 fourth grade control group. There were 497 second graders in the treatment group and 566 in the control group (numbers did not change when they reached the third grade). There were 524 fourth graders in the treatment group and 593 in the control group. The student surveys measured health-related knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, self-efficacy, and self-reported health status.

The curriculum was evaluated a third time using a sample of third (n=885) and fifth (n=1108) grade students selected from school districts in California, Idaho, Maine, and Washington. A quasi-experimental, pretest–posttest study design was employed. Treatment groups were selected by convenience from schools that already were implementing the GBS curriculum. Control schools consisted of different schools that either resided within the same district as the treatment schools or shared similar demographic characteristics with the treatment schools. Pretest data was collected at the beginning of the academic year, before the implementation of the GBS curricular units. Posttest data was collected at the end of the academic year.


The initial evaluation involving sixth graders found that students with greater exposure to GBS reported significantly lower use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and other substances than comparison students not exposed to GBS. Students with greater exposure to GBS reported significantly fewer violent acts and conduct problems and significantly more family caring, higher self-esteem, lower emotional distress, and less antisocial behavior than comparison students. GBS students reported significantly fewer school, family, and peer risk factors than comparison students.
The second evaluation found that students who receive the program for at least 1 school year score higher on health knowledge, health attitude, and health self-efficacy than students without the curriculum. Students in low-income schools showed he largest and most consistent gains and were especially improved in knowledge of nutrition and safety. The researchers also found that parents made changes at home as a result of GBS.

The third evaluation found that third and fifth grade students exposed to the GBS curriculum showed significant improvement in an overall curriculum posttest score based on health knowledge, values, learning skills, thinking skills, and behaviors when compared with students in the control group. Students exposed to the GBS curriculum also showed significant improvement in a posttest score based on items related to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention risk areas (unintentional and intentional injuries, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and physical inactivity) when compared with students in the control group.

Risk Factors


  • Cognitive and neurological deficits/Low intelligence quotient/Hyperactivity
  • Early onset of aggression and/or violence
  • Early sexual involvement
  • Favorable attitudes toward drug use/Early onset of AOD use/Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Lack of guilt and empathy
  • Life stressors
  • Mental disorder/Mental health problem/Conduct disorder
  • Poor refusal skills


  • Family management problems/Poor parental supervision and/or monitoring
  • Family transitions
  • Poor family attachment/Bonding


  • Identified as learning disabled
  • Inadequate school climate/Poorly organized and functioning schools/Negative labeling by teachers
  • Negative attitude toward school/Low bonding/Low school attachment/Commitment to school


  • Availability of alcohol and other drugs
  • Availability of firearms
  • Low community attachment


  • Association with delinquent and/or aggressive peers
  • Peer alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drug use
  • Peer rejection

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • High expectations
  • Perception of social support from adults and peers
  • Positive / Resilient temperament
  • Positive expectations / Optimism for the future
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Effective parenting
  • Good relationships with parents / Bonding or attachment to family
  • High expectations
  • Opportunities for prosocial family involvement
  • Rewards for prosocial family involvement


  • High expectations of students
  • High quality schools / Clear standards and rules
  • Opportunities for prosocial school involvement
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Rewards for prosocial school involvement
  • Strong school motivation / Positive attitude toward school
  • Student bonding (attachment to teachers, belief, commitment)


  • Clear social norms / Policies with sanctions for violations and rewards for compliance
  • High expectations
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Prosocial opportunities for participation / Availability of neighborhood resources
  • Rewards for prosocial community involvement
  • Safe environment / Low neighborhood crime


  • Good relationships with peers
  • Involvement with positive peer group activities


  • SAMHSA: Model Programs
  • Drug Strategies


Birch, David A., and Bart J. Hammig. 2004. The Great Body Shop Health Education Evaluation Report. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University of Carbondale.

Cartland, Jenifer, Holly S. Ruch–Ross, and A. Rahimian. 2003a. Evaluation of the Chicago Comprehensive School Health Education Curriculum Report of Year 1 Findings. Chicago, Ill.: Child Health Data Lab, Children’s Memorial Hospital.

———. 2003b. Evaluation of the Chicago Comprehensive School Health Education Curriculum Report of Year 2 Findings. Chicago, Ill.: Child Health Data Lab, Children’s Memorial Hospital.

Robinson, David S., and Center for Evaluation and Research With Children and Adolescents of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. 1999. The Impact of The Great Body Shop on Student Health Risk Behaviors and Other Risk and Protective Factors Using the Minnesota Student Survey. Boston, Mass.


Nancy M. Grace
The Children’s Health Market
27 Cannon Road, Suite 2A
Wilton, CT 06897–2618
Phone: (800) 782-7077
Fax: (203) 761-9038
Web site:

Technical Assistance Provider

Roxanne Burns, National Director of Training
The Children's Health Market
27 Cannon Road, Suite 2A
Wilton, CT 06897–2618
Phone: (800) 782-7077
Fax: (203) 761-9038
Web site: