Objective: To assess the effectiveness of an intervention programme to improve kindergarten children's eating and leisure habits in Israel.
Design: A cluster-randomised controlled trial.
Setting: Six full-day kindergartens in Israel were randomly divided into three groups. Group A received the full intervention programme, which included lessons on good eating habits and daily physical exercise. Group B received a partial intervention of lessons only. Group C, the reference group, did not receive any intervention.
Subjects: Children aged 4-6 years (n 204) were recruited for the study.
Methods: Objective data for weight and height were collected to calculate BMI Z-scores. Activity, sedentary time, sleeping hours and daily energy intake were assessed via a parental questionnaire. Nutritional knowledge was assessed by a single dietitian using a questionnaire addressed to the children. Assessments were done at baseline and at the end of the intervention.
Results: After adjustment for baseline levels we observed a significant reduction in daily energy intake for the full intervention group A (P = 0.03). A positive intervention effect was demonstrated on nutritional knowledge in the partial intervention group B (P = 0.03), although no significant change was demonstrated for BMI Z-score.
Conclusions: The study supports the incorporation of education on healthy lifestyle habits and physical activity into the curricula of kindergartens.
Keywords: Kindergarten; Nutrition; Obesity; Physical activity.