Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Effectiveness of a primary school-based intervention to reduce overweight

'Lekker Fit! ('enjoy beging fit') is a school-based program to contribute to the prevention of overweight and obesity among schoolchildren. Recently a study to evaluate the effectiveness of this program was published in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity by Dr. Wilma Jansen et al. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect on weight status indicators as well as physical fitness. In total 20 schools and 2,622 children aged 6-12 years (grades 3-8) from multi-ethnic, low income inner-city neighbourhoods in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, participated. The intervention was informed by behavioural and ecological models of health behaviors that contribute to or may help to prevent unnecessary weight gain in children. The main components of the intervention were the implementation of three physical education (PE) sessions a week by a professional PE teacher, additional sport and play activities outside school hours and an educational program. Weight status, body mass index, waist circumference and fitness (20 m shuttle run) were measured to assess effects. Children who participated in Lekker Fit! were found to be less likley to be overweight, had a smaller mean waist circumference, and performed significantly better in the shuttle run test than kids in the 'control schools', but vthese favourable results were only found among the younger children, i.e. the 6-9 year olds.