Nutrition and physical activity program to attenuate obesity and promote physical and metabolic fitness in elementary school children

Obes Res. 1996 May;4(3):229-43. doi: 10.1002/j.1550-8528.1996.tb00541.x.


Obesity and low levels of physical and metabolic fitness are risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The purpose of this investigation was to attenuate obesity and improve physical and metabolic fitness in elementary school children. Schools have the opportunity, mechanisms, and personnel in place to deliver nutrition education, fitness activities, and a school food service that is nutritious and healthy. Cohorts from grades 3 to 5 in two school districts in rural Nebraska (Intervention/Control) participated in a 2-year study of physical activity and modified school lunch program. Data collection for aerobic capacity, body composition, blood chemistry, nutrition knowledge, energy intake, and physical activity was at the beginning and end of each year. Int received enhanced physical activity, grade specific nutrition education, and a lower fat and sodium school lunch program. Con continued with a regular school lunch and team sports activity program. At year 2, Int lunches had significantly less energy (9%), fat (25%), sodium (21%), and more fiber (17%). However, measures of 24-hour energy intake for Int and Con showed significant differences for sodium only. Physical activity in the classroom was 6% greater for Int compared to Con (p < 0.05) but physical activity outside of school was approximately 16% less for Int compared to Con (p < 0.05). Body weight and body fat were not different between schools for normal weight or obese children. No differences were found for cholesterol, insulin, and glucose; however, HDL cholesterol was significantly greater and cholesterol/HDL was significantly less for Int compared to Con (p < 0.05). It appears that compensation in both energy intake and physical activity outside of school may be responsible for the lack of differences between Int and Con.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Child
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Food Services / standards
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Nebraska / epidemiology
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Physical Education and Training / organization & administration*
  • Physical Education and Training / standards
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Risk Factors
  • School Health Services / organization & administration*
  • School Health Services / standards
  • Sodium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Weight Gain / physiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Insulin
  • Sodium, Dietary
  • Cholesterol