Effect of a two-year obesity prevention intervention on percentile changes in body mass index and academic performance in low-income elementary school children

Am J Public Health. 2010 Apr;100(4):646-53. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.165746. Epub 2010 Feb 18.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Curriculum
  • Diet
  • Educational Status*
  • Ethnicity
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Schools