In low- and middle-income countries where childhood obesity is increasing rapidly, there is a lack of rigorous development and evaluation of prevention interventions. Previous childhood obesity prevention trials conducted in China have not provided robust, high-quality evidence of effective interventions. Without effective prevention programs, China is estimated to have 50 million overweight/obese children by 2030.
‘New school and family based program helps prevent obesity in urban Chinese children. ’
In the new study, the researchers developed CHIRPY DRAGON (CHInese pRimary school children PhYsical activity and DietaRy behAviour chanGes InterventiON), with the goal of preventing obesity in urban, primary school-aged children in China. Participants in the randomized controlled trial included 1,461 six-year-old children from 40 primary schools in Guangzhou, China.
One group of schools received a package of activities designed to increase healthy eating and physical activity (i.e., the CHIRPY DRAGON program) over 12 months and the other group of schools continued with their usual activities.
Children, particularly girls and those who were overweight or obese at baseline, in the group of schools receiving the program had a lower body-mass index at the end of the 12-month period, compared with children in the schools not receiving the program.
In the intervention group, significant beneficial effects were also observed for the consumption of fruits and vegetables, sugar-sweetened beverages and unhealthy snacks, in addition to sedentary behavior and physical activity. The program was also good value for money (£1,760 per quality-adjusted life-years).
It is not yet determined whether this intervention program can be successfully transferred to other contexts, but it may be effective in other locations that share similar characteristics to urban China.