Effect of School-Based Intervention on Preventing Childhood Obesity

A child holding a lunchbox of healthy food
A child holding a lunchbox of healthy food
The school-based healthy lifestyle program intervention encouraged healthy eating and physical activity and included a daily physical activity opportunities and termly cooking skills workshops.

HealthDay News — A focused school-based healthy lifestyle program intervention does not have a significant impact on body mass index (BMI) z score after 15 or 30 months, according to a study published online  in The BMJ.

Peymane Adab, MD, MPH, from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a cluster randomized trial in UK primary schools. After baseline measurements, 1467 year-1 pupils aged 5 to 6 years were randomized using a blocked balancing algorithm; 778 pupils were included as controls.

At first and second follow-up (15 and 30 months), data were available for 1287 and 1169 pupils, respectively. Healthy eating and physical activity were encouraged in the 12-month intervention, including a daily additional 30-minute school time physical activity opportunity and termly school-led family healthy cooking skills workshops.

The researchers found that at 15 months, the mean BMI z score was nonsignificantly lower in the intervention arm (mean difference, −0.075; 95% CI, −0.183 to 0.033; P =.18) in baseline adjusted models. The mean difference was −0.027 at 30 months (95% CI, −0.137 to 0.083; P =.63).

There were no statistically significant between-group differences in other anthropometric, dietary, physical activity, or psychological measurements.

“The primary analyses suggest that this experiential focused intervention had no statistically significant effect on BMI z score or on preventing childhood obesity,” the authors write. “Schools are unlikely to impact on the childhood obesity epidemic by incorporating such interventions without wider support across multiple sectors and environments.”

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Adab P, Pallan MJ, Lancashire ER, et al. Effectiveness of a childhood obesity prevention programme delivered through schools, targeting 6 and 7 year olds: cluster randomised controlled trial (WAVES study) [published online February 7, 2018]. BMJ. doi: 10.1136/bmj.k211