Community involvement important in fight against childhood obesity, according to UTHealth researchers
HOUSTON – (March 2, 2010) – Community support of school obesity prevention programs is critical to achieving a significant decrease in obesity among children, according to researchers at the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living, which is part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).
Deanna Hoelscher, Ph.D., professor of behavioral sciences at UTHealth’s
The study found an 8.3 percent 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
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All schools were provided with 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 this study is unique because it focuses on low-income ethnically diverse populations and efforts to include the community.
“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.
Similar results were found in Hoelscher’s El Paso SPAN (Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition) study, published in the October issue of Obesity. In El Paso, researchers found a decrease of 7 percent in the prevalence of obesity among 4th grade children observed over a 2.5-year period following an initiative spearheaded by the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, which included widespread implementation of the CATCH program, a television/radio advertisement campaign, a community-based nutrition education program and a walking promotion program.
About CATCH: UTHealth’s CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) is a Texas Education Agency-approved Coordinated School Health Program designed to promote physical activity and healthy food choices and prevent tobacco use in elementary school students. By teaching children that eating healthy and being physically active every day can be fun, the goal of the CATCH Program is to establish healthy habits in childhood that can promote behavior changes that carry into adulthood. For information, visit CATCH.
The Michael &
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