Objectives: We assessed the effects of a school-based obesity prevention intervention that included dietary, curricula, and physical activity components on body mass index (BMI) percentiles and academic performance among low-income elementary school children.
Methods: The study had a quasi-experimental design (4 intervention schools and 1 control school; 4588 schoolchildren; 48% Hispanic) and was conducted over a 2-year period. Data are presented for the subset of the cohort who qualified for free or reduced-price school lunches (68% Hispanic; n = 1197). Demographic and anthropometric data were collected in the fall and spring of each year, and academic data were collected at the end of each year.
Results: Significantly more intervention than control children stayed within normal BMI percentile ranges both years (P = .02). Although not significantly so, more obese children in the intervention (4.4%) than in the control (2.5%) decreased their BMI percentiles. Overall, intervention schoolchildren had significantly higher math scores both years (P < .001). Hispanic and White intervention schoolchildren were significantly more likely to have higher math scores (P < .001). Although not significantly so, intervention schoolchildren had higher reading scores both years.
Conclusions: School-based interventions can improve health and academic performance among low-income schoolchildren.