School-based interventions and childhood obesity

A study published in the British Medical Journal last week has been getting a lot of media attention. The study suggests that the effectiveness of programmes aimed at tackling obesity among 6 and 7 year olds in 54 schools may not have a huge impact in helping to reduce childhood obesity.

Intervention schools promoted more physical activity and healthy eating while control schools continued their normal activities. Researchers found no significant difference in body mass index (BMI), body fat measurements, diet or physical activity between control and intervention groups after a 39-month follow up.

When interpreting the finding the following limitations need to be considered:

  • At base-line, the intervention group was found to have more subjects with greater adiposity.
  • Children in the control group were generally from less deprived households compared to children in the intervention group.
  • The tool used to record dietary intakes may have led to a lot of misreporting. This means that actual food intake may not reflect food intakes reported.
  • Only 52% of participants provided data on physical activity at the 39-month follow up.
  • No school delivered all elements of the intervention fully. Components that required greater input from teachers were less well implemented.
  • There was parental involvement in some elements of the intervention but not all elements had parental input.

This is only one study of many which has investigated the effectiveness of school interventions on reducing the childhood obesity epidemic. There are many studies which provide evidence that school based intervention programmes have been successful in helping to reduce childhood obesity including a systematic review paper.


Posted: 13/02/2018 16:01:16 by Sarah Cassidy
Filed under: Childhood obesity, Healthy eating, Physical activity, Schools


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