Objective: The Girls health Enrichment Multisite Studies (GEMS) Fun, Food, and Fitness Project (FFFP) was designed to prevent obesity among 8-year-old African-American girls.
Design: Twelve-week, two-arm parallel group randomized controlled pilot study.
Setting: Summer day camp and homes in Houston, Texas.
Participants: Thirty-five girls and their parents or caregivers were randomly assigned to treatment (N=19) or control groups (N=16).
Intervention: Girls in the intervention group attended a special 4-week summer day camp, followed by a special 8-week home Internet intervention for the girls and their parents. Control group girls attended a different 4-week summer day camp, followed by a monthly home Internet intervention, neither of which components included the GEMS-FFFP enhancements.
Main outcome measures: Body mass index (BMI), consumption of fruit, 100% fruit juice, and vegetables (FJV), physical activity.
Results: After adjusting for baseline BMI, there were no significant differences in BMI between treatment and control group girls, either at the end of the 4-week summer day camp, or after the full 12-week intervention. By the end of the summer camp, the subgroup of treatment group girls heavier at baseline exhibited a trend (P<.08) toward lower BMI, compared to their heavier counterparts in the control group. Overall results at the end of the 12-week program demonstrated substantial, although not significant, differences between treatment and control groups in the hypothesized directions. On average, less than half the treatment sample logged onto the Website, which limited intervention dose.
Conclusions: Summer day camp appears to offer promise for initiating health behavior change. Effective methods must be developed and tested to enhance log-on rates among healthy children and their parents before Internet programs can achieve their potential.