Background: The number of obese children and adolescents in the United States (U.S.) is estimated to be 12.7 million according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Therefore, approximately 17% of the nation’s children are obese. Rates of childhood obesity in Arkansas (22%) are consistently higher than the national average. To address this issue, a nutrition and physical activity intervention was designed by researchers from Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) Nutrition and Dietetics Program.
Objective: To determine the effectiveness of a nutrition and physical activity intervention in improving the Body Mass Index (BMI)-for-age percentiles of rural Arkansas children at risk for childhood obesity.
Design: The research included a treatment group that received weekly nutrition and physical activity lessons and a control group that did not receive nutrition and physical activity lessons. The baseline and ending BMI-for-age percentiles were recorded for all children. Nutrition knowledge was assessed in the treatment group at baseline and at the end of a seven-week period using a multiple choice pre- and post-test.
Participants/setting: In the summer of 2018, 110 children ages 2- to 12-years-old from the three childcare programs in Arkadelphia were selected.
Intervention: Treatment groups received weekly nutrition and physical activity lessons over a seven-week period.
Main Outcome Measures: Children’s BMI and test scores were analyzed.
Statistical analyses performed: t test and z-scores.
Results: Test scores improved in the 7- to 9-year-old group and the 10- to 12-year-old group, but there was no improvement in the 4- to 6-year-old group. For the control group, the mean pre-assessment BMI was 16.0 ± 2.9 and at post-assessment, the mean BMI was 15.8 ± 2.8 (p=0.295). The mean BMI of the control group did not change significantly during the summer. For the treatment group, the mean pre-assessment BMI was 18.5 ± 3.1 and at post-assessment, the mean BMI was 18.6 ± 3.2 (p=0.395). The mean BMI of the treatment group did not change significantly during the summer.
Conclusions and Implications: The majority of children participating in the nutrition and physical activity intervention had improved nutrition knowledge test scores at the end of the intervention. BMI-for-age percentiles remained statistically the same for the seven-week program. Pre- and post-test for 7- to 9-year-old and 10- to 12-year-old children are useful for accessing nutrition and physical activity knowledge but are not useful for 4- to 6-year-old children.
Goodroe, Anna Claire; Patrick, Kaycee; and Brech, Detri, "Effects of Nutrition and Physical Activity Intervention in Improving Children's BMI-for-Age Percentiles" (2018). Dietetics and Nutrition Class Publications. 7.