Effectiveness of short-term, community- and school-based strategies aimed at tackling childhood obesity

T. Alan M. Brown, Lesley Fowler, Ruth Camphell, David Shennan
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The prevalence of children in Scotland who are overweight/obese has reached alarming proportions. The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of two short-term (6-10 weeks) programmes aimed at reducing childhood obesity. One of the programmes was delivered within a community setting whilst the other was school-based. For comparison, we examined the effect of the well established MEND programme. All of the initiatives consisted of a mixture of physical activity and nutrition education and involved varying degrees of parental participation. The programmes also varied in their intensity and duration. The primary outcome measure was a change in BMI/BMI-SDS (BMI-standard deviation score). All three programmes were successful in reducing BMI-standard deviation score (BMI-SDS) albeit with varying degrees of success (range 0.065-0.18) . It is apparent that the reduction in BMI-SDS was dependent upon the number of weekly sessions and the duration of the programme. The community based programmes had a greater effect on the primary outcome than the school-based initiative. The reduction in BMI-SDS was still evident 6 months after the completion of the community-based programmes. The effectiveness of a programme to reduce BMI/BMI-SDS depended on the frequency and intensity of the sessions. The results could help inform the development of longer-term community- and school-based strategies aimed at reducing paediatric adiposity.

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