A school intervention program did not have a significant impact on BMI or preventing childhood obesity, according to recently published study results.
“Excess weight in childhood is a global problem, affecting around 41 million children under the age of 5 years,” researchers in the United Kingdom wrote. “… The [West Midlands ActiVe lifestyle and healthy Eating in School children (WAVES)] study is a large childhood obesity prevention trial within a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse population, with sufficient sample size to assess the primary outcome.”
The researchers measured the effectiveness of the WAVES program, a 12-month intervention that promoted healthy eating and physical activity, including an additional daily 30-minute school time physical activity, postings of local family physical activity and school-led family workshops on healthy cooking skills, and compared with no intervention.
A blocked balancing algorithm was used to randomize 1,467 year-1 students aged 5 to 6 years in 54 U.K. primary schools in the West Midlands, including a control group of 28 schools and 778 students. The first follow-up was at 15 months, and a second follow-up was at 30 months. The difference between the two cohorts at 15 months and 30 months based on BMI z score were the primary outcomes.
According to baseline adjusted models, there was not a significant difference between the mean BMI z scores between the cohorts at 15 months (mean difference –0.075; 95% CI, –0.0183 to 0.033) or at 30 months (mean difference, –0.027; 95% CI, –0.137 to 0.083).
Other anthropometric, dietary, physical activity and psychological measurements also did not differ significantly between the cohorts.
“The multicomponent WAVES study intervention, which was feasible to deliver and for which there was no evidence of harm, did not result in a statistically significant BMI z score overall, and there was no evidence of effect on measured diet or physical activity levels in children,” the researchers concluded. “Although wider implementation of this intervention cannot be recommended for obesity prevention, the lower cost components could be considered by schools to fulfill their mandated responsibilities for education on health and well-being. Within the context of wider evidence, it is likely that any effect of school-based educational, motivational and skill-centered interventions on obesity prevention is small.”
Disclosures: Infectious Diseases in Children could not determine the authors’ relevant financial disclosures at time of publication.