Community involvement is important in the fight against childhood obesity says a new research carried out by American researchers.
Researchers at the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living, which is part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), claim community support of school obesity prevention programs is vital to achieving a significant decrease in obesity among kids.
Deanna Hoelscher, professor of behavioral sciences at UTHealth's School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus, analysed obesity prevalence changes among children in Travis County after the introduction of a school-based obesity intervention program, the Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH). Hoelscher compared the traditional school-based focus (CATCH BasicPlus) against the traditional school-based focus with greater community input (CATCH Community) to come up with the findings.
The study discovered an 8.3 per cent decrease in obesity prevalence from spring 2007 to spring 2008 among children in the CATCH Community program compared to a 1.3 percent decrease in obesity prevalence among children in the CATCH BP program. The study was conducted in low-income minority schools in Travis County.
Hoelscher, who is also the director of the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, said: "Data from the Travis County schools show that school-based obesity intervention programs, when implemented with complementary community involvement, can significantly prevent the onset of child obesity.
"The data we found is consistent with data found in other studies of school and community approaches to childhood obesity."
All schools were given CATCH program training materials and support visits. The CATCH Community schools also received support for building school and community partnerships, as well as creating environments to increase physical activity and healthy eating promotion through CATCH school committees.
Hoelscher said: "These results reinforce the need to focus increasingly on environmental and societal level changes, as well as individual approaches, to reduce childhood obesity," said Hoelscher.
The findings of the study have appeared in the February issue of the journal Obesity.