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Effective Multi-level, Multi-sector, School-based Obesity Prevention Programming Improves Weight, Blood Pressure, and Academic Performance, Especially among Low-Income, Minority Children


Introduction. Successfully addressing childhood onset obesity requires multilevel (individual, community, and governmental), multi-agency collaboration. Methods. The Healthier Options for Public Schoolchildren (HOPS)/OrganWise Guys® (OWG) quasi-experimental controlled pilot study (four intervention schools, one control school, total N=3,769; 50.2% Hispanic) was an elementary school-based obesity prevention intervention designed to keep children at a normal, healthy weight, and improve health status and academic achievement. The HOPS/OWG included the following replicable, holistic components: (1) modified dietary offerings, (2) nutrition/lifestyle educational curricula; (3) physical activity component; and (4) wellness projects. Demographic, anthropometric (body mass index [BMI]), blood pressure, and academic data were collected during the two-year study period (2004-6). Results. Statistically significant improvements in BMI, blood pressure, and academic scores, among low-income Hispanic and White children in particular, were seen in the intervention versus controls. Conclusion. Holistic school-based obesity prevention interventions can improve health outcomes and academic performance, in particular among high-risk populations.

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