Impact of a school-based pediatric obesity prevention program facilitated by health professionals.

Assistant Professor, (), Department of Pediatrics-Nutrition, Baylor College of Medicine, Children's Nutrition Research Center, PO Box 6655, Travis Street, Suite 320, Houston, TX 77030.
Journal of School Health (Impact Factor: 1.5). 03/2013; 83(3):171-81. DOI: 10.1111/josh.12013
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study evaluated a school-based obesity intervention for elementary school children (N = 835) where health professionals assisted teachers with the integration of healthy messages into the school curriculum.
Schools were randomized into a professional-facilitated intervention (PFI; N = 4) or a self-help (SH; N = 3) condition. Changes in weight-based outcomes were assessed in students enrolled in the second grade from all 7 schools (overall: N = 835 students; PFI: N = 509 students, SH: N = 326 students). Students were between ages 7 and 9 and from diverse ethnic backgrounds (Asian = 25.3%, Black = 23.3%, Hispanic = 23.1%, White = 28.3%). The sample included 321 overweight/obese (BMI ≥ 85th percentile), 477 normal-weight (BMI ≥ 5th percentile and <85th percentile), and 37 underweight (BMI < 5th percentile) students.
After 2 years, children who were overweight/obese in the PFI condition significantly reduced their standardized BMI (zBMI) compared to children in the SH condition (Wald χ(2) = 28.7, p < .001). End-of-year grades decreased for overweight/obese students in both conditions; however, students in the PFI exhibited a smaller decrease in grades compared to the SH condition (Wald χ(2) = 80.3, p < .001).
The results indicate that an obesity prevention program where health professionals assist teachers by integrating healthy messages into existing curriculum was effective in reducing zBMI compared to the SH condition.

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