Objective: Childhood obesity is increasingly being recognized as a major public health problem in the Caribbean. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a short-term, school-based, multi-component education intervention on improving the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of primary-school children towards better dietary and activity habits.
Design: The study was a randomized, controlled, school-based nutrition education and physical activity intervention. Participating schools were randomly assigned to the intervention (IVG) and non-intervention (NIVG) groups.
Setting: All primary schools in Sangre Grande, north-east Trinidad.
Subjects: Five hundred and seventy-nine pupils in their sixth year of primary-school education were enrolled from twelve schools in Sangre Grande, north-east Trinidad.
Results: Approximately 23 % of participants had BMI >or= 85th percentile of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention age- and gender-specific cut-off values. In multivariate regression equations controlling for age, gender, BMI and baseline value, intervention was associated with lower intake levels of fried foods, snack foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) and sodas (P < 0.05). In similar analyses, intervention was associated with higher knowledge scores (P < 0.01). Intervention was not significantly associated with physical activity and Children's Eating Attitude Test-26 (ChEAT26) scores after controlling for age, gender, BMI and the relevant baseline values.
Conclusions: The intervention was associated with lower intake levels of fried foods, HFSS foods, sodas and higher knowledge scores independent of age, gender, BMI, ethnicity and the appropriate baseline value. Finally, the intervention was not associated with changes in physical activity behaviours in multivariate analyses.