The YMCA Healthy, Fit, and Strong Program: A Community-Based, Family-Centered, Low-Cost Obesity Prevention/Treatment Pilot Study

Childhood Obesity (Impact Factor: 1.87). 12/2012; 8(6):577-82. DOI: 10.1089/chi.2012.0060
Source: PubMed


Many resources are available for adults, but there are few community-based programs for overweight and obese children. Community engagement may be instrumental in overcoming barriers physicians experience in managing childhood obesity. Our objective was to design and test the feasibility of a community-based (YMCA), family-centered, low-cost intervention for overweight and obese children.

Children 6-11 years over the 85th BMI percentile for age and sex were recruited to YMCA sites in four North Carolina communities. The children had physical activity sessions three times weekly for 3 months (one activity session weekly was family night). The parents received a once-weekly nutrition education class conducted by a registered dietitian using the NC Eat Smart Move More curriculum (10 sessions). Changes in BMI were measured at 3, 6, and 12 months and diet and activity behaviors at 3 and 12 months after baseline.

Significant reductions were observed in BMI percentile for age and BMI z-scores at 3, 6, and 12 months. Improvements occurred in dietary and physical activity behaviors, including drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, spending more time in physically active behaviors, and spending less time in sedentary behaviors. The program was low-cost, and qualitative comments suggest the parents and children benefited from the experience.

This low-cost YMCA-based intervention was associated with BMI reductions and positive nutritional and activity behavior changes, providing an additional strategy for addressing childhood obesity in community settings.

Download full-text


Available from: Eliana M Perrin, Nov 05, 2014

  • No preview · Article · Oct 2013 · Clinical Pediatrics
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the past 20 years, the prevalence of obesity in the United States increased almost 50% among adults and by 300% in children. Today, 9.7% of all U.S. infants up to 2 years old have abnormally high weight-for-recumbent length; 25% of children under age 5 are either overweight or obese; and 17% of adolescents are obese. Ethnic disparities in the rates of obesity are also large and apparent in childhood. Further, 44% of obese adolescents have metabolic syndrome. Obese children tend to become obese adults; thus, in a decade, young adults will likely have much higher risks of chronic disease, which has tremendous implications for the healthcare system. However, early childhood may be the best time to prevent obesity. Teachers' healthy eating choices are positively associated with changes in body mass index percentiles for children, for example. In addition, 8 million children attend afterschool programs, which can successfully promote health and wellness and successfully treat obesity. This childhood epidemic of obesity and its health-related consequences in adolescents should be a clinical and public health priority. However, this major public health problem cannot be managed solely in clinical settings. Rather, public health strategies must be integrated into home and family, school and community-based settings.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2013
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background Children with disabilities are more likely to be overweight or obese and less likely to engage in physical activities versus their peers without disabilities. Objective The effect of a structured afterschool program housed in a large county parks system on several obesity-related health outcomes among children with disabilities was examined. Methods Children/adolescents with a developmental and/or intellectual disability ages 6-to-22 (N=52, mean age 13.7 years) who participated in an afterschool (either 2010- 2011 or 2011- 2012 school year) health and wellness program called Fit-2-PlayTM were assessed. Pre-post comparison of outcome variables (mean height, weight, waist/hip/midarm circumference, fitness tests, and a 9-item health and wellness knowledge assessment) via general linear mixed models analysis was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the program for normal and overweight/obese participants. Results Normal weight participants significantly improved pre-post mean number of push-ups (9.69 to 14.23, p=0.01) and laps on the PACER test (8.54 to 11.38, p<0.01) and the overweight/obese group significantly improved the number of sit ups (7.51 to 9.84, p<0.01) and push ups (4.77 to 9.89, p<0.001). Pre-post mean health and wellness knowledge composite scores significantly improved for all participants (p<0.01). Conclusions Parks-based afterschool programs can be effective community resources for instilling physical health in both normal weight and overweight/obese children with disabilities. More studies are needed to ascertain whether community-based afterschool health and wellness programs can be implemented and sustained across this population.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · Disability and Health Journal
Show more