Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Exhibit Hall NA Poster Area (Convention Center)
The current epidemic of childhood obesity has been referred to as a national crisis. There are many modifiable factors that have contributed to the documented increase in overweight and obesity rates among children. Inactivity and poor eating habits are two key contributors. Promoting physical activity and healthy eating and creating an environment that supports these behaviors are essential to addressing the problem. The school environment provides an excellent opportunity to influence lifestyle changes. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to design an effective obesity prevention program for elementary students that focused on physical activity, healthy eating, and self-esteem. The investigators for this study have backgrounds in Health Education, Physical Education, Dietetics, and Social Work. This interdisciplinary approach helped to provide a unique insight into the physical, emotional, and psychological dimensions of obesity prevention. Methods: One thousand five hundred and twenty-two K - 5th grade students participated in the study. Participants completed a 27-item pretest and posttest, and were measured for height and weight pre and post. Participants in the treatment group (n= 1,384) participated in a variety of activities that took place during school hours over the course of four months (i.e., pedometer activity, healthy snacks and fruit smoothie activities, self-esteem workbooks, and a family fitness fair). In addition, teachers were provided with Take-10 and Fit-Bits curricula and encouraged to infuse these physical fitness based activities into their daily curriculum. Results: Pretest results indicated that approximately 50% of K-2nd grade students would like to exercise every day. However, when asked what their favorite activities were, 72.6% identified ‘watching TV' and 68% reported ‘playing video games.' Ninety-two percent felt that it was very important to eat healthy; however, the majority chose unhealthy snacks (i.e., cookies, ice cream) over healthier snack options. Eighty-three percent of participants in grades 3-5 reported that they like to be physically active, and 86.2% stated that participation in physical activity makes them feel good. The majority (91.9%) believed that healthy eating was important, and 74.6% were happy with their body. Conclusions: Initial results indicate that young children understand how important healthy eating and daily physical activity is for their overall health. However, many of their reported behaviors do not reflect this. BMI results indicated that 23.5% of K-2nd grade and 16.5% of 3-5th grade participants were either overweight or obese.
Post-test results will be available at the time of presentation.