School intervention in the form of healthier cafeteria food, more physical education and lessons on healthy lifestyle may improve kids' heart health, researchers have found.
"This four-year school intervention in Ann Arbor, Mich., was designed to promote healthier lifestyle choices and it shows that programs like this could have long-term impact on obesity and other health risks," said Elizabeth A. Jackson, co-author of the study and assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan.
"Such changes may have sustained benefits in terms of reducing incidences of diabetes and cardiovascular disease as the students age," she added.
The program primarily includes inculcating habits like eating more fruits and vegetables and less fatty foods, making better beverage choices, doing 150 minutes of physical activity every week and spending less time in front of the TV and computer.
In order to confirm whether the intervention program could decrease future cardiovascular disease and diabetes risks, Jackson and colleagues studied 593 students.
They collected data for four consecutive years on body mass index, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart rate and students' self-evaluation of diet, exercise and other behaviours.
"Results of the wellness survey indicate that after four years, students continued to make health-conscious decisions," Jackson said.