Background: This study evaluated a school-based obesity intervention for elementary school children (N = 835) where health professionals assisted teachers with the integration of healthy messages into the school curriculum.
Methods: Schools were randomized into a professional-facilitated intervention (PFI; N = 4) or a self-help (SH; N = 3) condition. Changes in weight-based outcomes were assessed in students enrolled in the second grade from all 7 schools (overall: N = 835 students; PFI: N = 509 students, SH: N = 326 students). Students were between ages 7 and 9 and from diverse ethnic backgrounds (Asian = 25.3%, Black = 23.3%, Hispanic = 23.1%, White = 28.3%). The sample included 321 overweight/obese (BMI ≥ 85th percentile), 477 normal-weight (BMI ≥ 5th percentile and <85th percentile), and 37 underweight (BMI < 5th percentile) students.
Results: After 2 years, children who were overweight/obese in the PFI condition significantly reduced their standardized BMI (zBMI) compared to children in the SH condition (Wald χ(2) = 28.7, p < .001). End-of-year grades decreased for overweight/obese students in both conditions; however, students in the PFI exhibited a smaller decrease in grades compared to the SH condition (Wald χ(2) = 80.3, p < .001).
Conclusion: The results indicate that an obesity prevention program where health professionals assist teachers by integrating healthy messages into existing curriculum was effective in reducing zBMI compared to the SH condition.
© 2013, American School Health Association.