July 10, 2013
1 min read

Community intervention reduced BMI in children at risk for obesity

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Two-year data demonstrate that a prolonged community intervention targeting physical activity and involvement from the community as a whole led to decreased BMI z scores among early elementary school children at risk for developing obesity.

“Shape Up Somerville used a CPBR approach to develop strategies for implementation that matched the community’s wants, needs and strengths and interventions that could be built into existing ‘platforms’ such as active transport, school curriculum, food service and after school programs, thereby ensuring sustainability into and beyond the second year of the intervention,” Christina D. Economos, PhD, of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and colleagues wrote.

Christina D. Economos, PhD 

Christina D. Economos

The 2-year trial used community-based participatory research (CBPR) and included children with a mean age of 7.61 years (n=1,028) from 30 public elementary schools in three communities in Massachusetts. Somerville was selected as the intervention community due to previous research ties, according to researchers. The other two communities were used as sociodemographic-matched control communities.

In the first year of the trial, researchers sought to improve energy balance by enhancing physical activity options and access to healthy foods. To determine the program’s sustainability, the researchers entrusted the interventions to community members and parents in the second year.

The 2-year data indicate changes to BMI z scores among children in the intervention community decreased by −0.06 (95% CI, −0.08 to −0.04) compared with controls.

Further, the prevalence of overweight or obesity decreased in boys (P=.01) and girls (P=.01). Remission increased in the boys (P=.03) and girls (P=.03) in the intervention community vs. controls, according to data.

Additionally, the study demonstrates the significant impact of the intervention on the overall overweight or obesity prevalence based on BMI z scores (OR=0.71; 95% CI, 0.56-0.90) in addition to remission of overweight or obesity (OR=2.29; 95% CI, 1.14-4.62), researchers wrote.

Economos and colleagues encourage further innovative research community programs to reduce childhood obesity.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.