Background: Child and adolescent obesity predisposes individuals to an increased risk of morbidity and mortality from a range of lifestyle diseases. Although there is some evidence to suggest that rates of pediatric obesity have leveled off in recent years, this has not been the case among youth from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The purpose of this paper is to report the rationale, study design and baseline findings of a school-based obesity prevention program for low-active adolescent girls from disadvantaged secondary schools.
Methods/design: The Nutrition and Enjoyable Activity for Teen Girls (NEAT Girls) intervention will be evaluated using a group randomized controlled trial. NEAT Girls is a 12-month multi-component school-based intervention developed in reference to Social Cognitive Theory and includes enhanced school sport sessions, interactive seminars, nutrition workshops, lunch-time physical activity (PA) sessions, PA and nutrition handbooks, parent newsletters, pedometers for self-monitoring and text messaging for social support. The following variables were assessed at baseline and will be completed again at 12- and 24-months: adiposity, objectively measured PA, muscular fitness, time spent in sedentary behaviors, dietary intake, PA and nutrition social-cognitive mediators, physical self-perception and global self-esteem. Statistical analyses will follow intention-to-treat principles and hypothesized mediators of PA and nutrition behavior change will be explored.
Discussion: NEAT Girls is an innovative intervention targeting low-active girls using evidence-based behavior change strategies and nutrition and PA messages and has the potential to prevent unhealthy weight gain and reduce the decline in physical activity and poor dietary habits associated with low socio-economic status. Few studies have reported the long-term effects of school-based obesity prevention programs and the current study has the potential to make an important contribution to the field.
Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry No: ACTRN12610000330044.