Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

School nutrition, wellness program improves eating habits, lowers BMI

Date:
April 27, 2014
Source:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
Summary:
Percentage of overweight or obese children in test school drops from 56 percent to 38 percent over the course of a single school year thanks to a new nutrition program that fits into Common Core standards. Researchers say the program could be adopted nationally at little cost to schools. "When we designed the study, we anticipated short-term outcomes like kids having more knowledge of nutrition or being able to identify more vegetables. We always had a long-term goal of decreasing BMI, but we didn't anticipate that it would happen in such a short timeframe. We are thrilled," they say.

Can we fight childhood obesity by telling kids to eat more, not less? Researchers behind a new comprehensive school nutrition and wellness program say you get further by offering kids a carrot -- literally, in this case -- by giving them reasons to be excited about fruits and vegetables, rather than harping about what they should avoid, such as sugar-sweetened beverages.

Related Articles


In a randomized control study, the researchers found 4th-graders who participated in the nutrition program ate substantially more fruits and vegetables and lowered their body mass index (BMI) during the school year that the program was implemented. The percentage of 4th-graders who were overweight or obese dropped from 56 percent to 38 percent over the course of the year.

"We take the approach that positive messages are going to be more readily adopted by students than restrictive messages," said Rachel Scherr, Ph.D., an assistant project scientist at the University of California at Davis and one of the study's lead investigators. "For us, the most important thing is that the kids and their families really enjoyed the program. It was very successful, and I think it was critical that we focused on empowering kids and their families to want to make a change."

The "Shaping Healthy Choices Program" takes a holistic approach to engage students, schools, parents and community partners in building healthful habits. At its core is a curriculum that integrates classroom nutrition activities with physical activity and gardening. It also includes cooking demonstrations and recipes, health-related activities for school events, family newsletters and guidance for school lunchrooms to encourage healthy eating, for example, by creating a salad bar.

Four elementary schools in two California school districts participated in the study. In each district, one school received the Shaping Healthy Choices Program over the course of the 2012-2013 school year while the other school did not. The researchers assessed several outcomes including students' BMI, reported dietary intake and knowledge about nutrition at the start and end of the school year.

Although the analyses are still underway, preliminary results from one district show participating children dropped their BMI percentile by nearly 9 points, from an average of the 77th percentile to an average of the 68th percentile. Participating 4th-grade children who reported eating one or fewer servings of vegetables per day at the start of the study increased their vegetable intake by 40 percent. Students at the school that did not receive the Shaping Healthy Choices Program showed no change in BMI, vegetable intake or nutrition knowledge.

Scherr said the results show that the program has a real impact on students' health. "When we designed the study, we anticipated short-term outcomes like kids having more knowledge of nutrition or being able to identify more vegetables. We always had a long-term goal of decreasing BMI, but we didn't anticipate that it would happen in such a short timeframe. We are thrilled," said Scherr.

The program was designed to be easily integrated into the Common Core standards now being rolled out in 44 U.S. states. The program's multiple components can be adopted separately or together, though the study only evaluated the effectiveness of the full program.

Most components can be implemented at little cost. Some elements, such as building a school garden or creating a salad bar, require a small amount of start-up funding. "There's room for a program like this at all schools," said Scherr. "It's very cost-effective, and it's been designed so schools can adopt the whole program or just the parts that are most feasible for them."

The researchers plan to make the full program toolkit available online for free by the end of 2014, including professional development resources to facilitate the program's implementation. Although the researchers played a major role in implementing the program at the test schools during the study, they believe that most schools will be able to adopt the program without outside assistance.

Recent estimates indicate nearly one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese, raising their risk of obesity in adulthood and a host of associated health problems. Most children do not meet current dietary guidelines for eating fruits and vegetables.

Rachel Scherr will present the findings during the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting on Sunday, April 27.

The study was funded by a University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Competitive Grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). "School nutrition, wellness program improves eating habits, lowers BMI." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140427185146.htm>.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). (2014, April 27). School nutrition, wellness program improves eating habits, lowers BMI. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140427185146.htm
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). "School nutrition, wellness program improves eating habits, lowers BMI." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140427185146.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Microsoft's Q3 earnings showed its tablets and cloud services are really hitting their stride. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
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


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

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