Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Changing School Environment Curbs Weight Gain In Children, Study Shows

Date:
April 7, 2008
Source:
Temple University
Summary:
Small changes in schools lead to big results when it comes to preventing childhood obesity, according to a new study. The school-based intervention, which reduced the incidence of overweight by 50 percent, offers a potential means of preventing childhood weight gain and obesity on a large scale.

Small changes in schools lead to big results when it comes to preventing childhood obesity, according to a study published in the April issue of Pediatrics. The school-based intervention, which reduced the incidence of overweight by 50 percent, offers a potential means of preventing childhood weight gain and obesity on a large scale.

“The increasing prevalence and serious consequences of childhood obesity have pushed us to find solutions that go beyond the clinic and reach greater numbers of children,” said lead author Gary Foster, Ph.D., director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University. “We focused on school because children spend most of their lives there and eat at least one if not two meals there.”

The two-year study was conducted in 10 K-8 Philadelphia schools. Half the schools implemented a multi-faceted nutrition policy, including social marketing and family outreach, which was developed by The Food Trust, a non-profit organization committed to ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food.

“We incorporated healthy eating into every part of the school day in order to have a greater impact on the students,” said Sandy Sherman, Ed.D., director of nutrition education at The Food Trust. “The intervention fundamentally changed the school environment.”

The other five schools served as a comparison. The study focused on 1,349 students in grades 4 through 6, and followed them for a two-year period, measuring weight, height and physical activity before and after.

The intervention, also called the School Nutrition Policy Initiative, included the following components: school self-assessment, nutrition education, nutrition policy, social marketing and parent outreach.

Nutrition policy

Soda was replaced with water, 100 percent fruit juice and low-fat milk. Snacks were capped at 7 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 360 milligrams of sodium and 15 grams of sugar per serving. Candy was eliminated from the school premises.

Nutrition education

Teachers received 10 hours of training in teaching nutrition, and students received 50 hours of nutrition education over the course of the year.

Social marketing

Kids were rewarded for healthy snacking and encouraged to save their appetites for healthy meals. Nutritious snacks and drinks earned them raffle tickets to win prizes.

Family outreach

Nutrition educators encouraged parents and students to purchase healthy snacks. Students were challenged to be less sedentary and more physically active, and to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Only 7.5 percent of children became overweight in intervention schools, compared with 15 percent of children who became overweight in comparison schools. The intervention was even more effective in African American students, who were less likely to be overweight than those in the comparison schools after two years.

The results are particularly interesting for urban schools, where rates of childhood obesity are disproportionately higher than in suburban areas and greatly affected by the surrounding environment.

“In some inner-city neighborhoods, it’s safer to stay inside after school than to go outside and play. When money is tight, it’s cheaper to feed your kids convenience foods, which are usually higher in fat and calories. Multiple environmental factors are responsible for the childhood obesity epidemic,” said Foster.

Despite the success of the interventions, the fact that 7.5 percent of children in School Nutrition Policy Initiative schools still gained weight over the two-year period suggests that stronger or additional interventions are needed, such as more time spent on physical education, more aggressive nutrition policies, and interventions that target the environment outside of schools.

The researchers also recommend that prevention programs begin even earlier than 4th grade, as the prevalence of overweight children (BMI above the 85th percentile) in grades 4 through 6 is already high at 41.7 percent.

Temple and The Food Trust are currently working together on a corner store initiative, designed to improve the nutrition of food and snacks for sale at neighborhood stores.

“A Policy-Based School Intervention to Prevent Overweight and Obesity,” April 2008, Pediatrics, by Gary D. Foster, PhD, Sandy Sherman, Kelley E. Borradaile, Karen M. Grundy, Stephanie S. Vander Veur, Joan Nachmani, Allison Karpyn, Shiriki Kumanyika, Justine Shults.

This study was supported by grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Food and Nutrition Service through the Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Program (PENNSYLVANIA TRACKS).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Temple University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Temple University. "Changing School Environment Curbs Weight Gain In Children, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080407074554.htm>.
Temple University. (2008, April 7). Changing School Environment Curbs Weight Gain In Children, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080407074554.htm
Temple University. "Changing School Environment Curbs Weight Gain In Children, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080407074554.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins