Prevention of the epidemic increase in child risk of overweight in low-income schools: the El Paso coordinated approach to child health

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005 Mar;159(3):217-24. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.159.3.217.


Objective: To assess the impact on children's health of translating an evidence-based national intervention trial (Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health [CATCH]) to low-income elementary schools with primarily Hispanic students.

Design: An untreated, matched control group design with repeated dependent pretest and posttest samples was used.

Setting: Four El Paso CATCH and 4 control elementary schools in El Paso, Tex, along the US-Mexico border region. All had Title I status (most were low-income students).

Participants: Participants were 896 third-grade children (473 control schools [224 girls and 249 boys] and 423 CATCH schools [199 girls and 224 boys]); 93% were Hispanic.

Intervention: Community-based implementation of the national CATCH program.

Main outcome measures: Risk of overweight or overweight, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, yards run in 9 minutes, passing rates for Fitnessgram national mile standards, moderate to vigorous physical activity and vigorous physical activity in physical education class, and percentage of fat and sodium in school lunches.

Results: Girls in control schools had significant increases in percentage of risk of overweight or overweight from third (26%) to fifth (39%) grades, as did girls in CATCH schools (30%-32%); however, the rate of increase for girls in the CATCH schools was significantly lower (2%) compared with the rate for control girls (13%). A similar pattern was seen for boys, with a rate of increase for boys in CATCH schools of 1% (40%-41%), which was significantly less than the 9% increase (40% to 49%) for control boys.

Conclusions: The translation of the national CATCH program to low-income schools with Hispanic students successfully slowed the epidemic increase in risk of overweight or overweight seen in control school children. An emphasis should be placed on community organizing and evaluation feedback when implementing evidence-based school health programs in low-income Hispanic communities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Community-Institutional Relations
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Physical Fitness
  • School Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Texas / epidemiology