Abstract 12: Afterschool Soccer Fitness and Nutrition Program Improves BMI Percentile, Waist Circumference, and Fitness Levels in Participants Compared to Nonparticipants
Introduction: While childhood obesity has begun to plateau, some subgroups continue to experience increases - particularly children living below the federal poverty level, African American and Hispanic children. Many lack access to afterschool recreation and/or reliable health information, including information about good nutrition.
Hypothesis: We hypothesized that more children in the intervention would: 1) improve their body mass index (BMI) percentile category (for age and gender in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention); 2) have healthier waist circumference (WC) measures; 3) have higher levels of fitness (run more PACER laps).
Methods: The U.S. Soccer Foundation developed the Soccer for Success (SfS) program to combat childhood obesity, promote healthy eating and exercise habits, and foster youth development among children in economically disadvantaged communities. The intervention operated 90 minutes per day, three days a week, for 24 weeks over the course of the school year. Nutritious snacks were provided. Employing a one-year, quasi-experimental design, data were collected at baseline and follow-up (early Fall 2013 and late Spring 2014) in 16 randomly-assigned intervention and 14 control sites located in five cities: Buffalo, NY (4 intervention, 4 control); Denver, CO (4 intervention, 2 control); Detroit, MI (4 intervention, 4 control); Los Angeles, CA (1 intervention, 1 control); and Seattle, WA (3 intervention, 3 control). Data included height, weight, waist circumference, number PACER laps run, demographic data (via administrative records).
Results: The SfS sample included 1,234 low-income children grades K-5 (712 intervention/522 control). The majority of children were Hispanic (55.8%; 31.5% Black, 4.6% multi-ethnic; 4.4% White); 61.9% males. There was no difference between groups regarding demographic characteristics nor BMI percentile at baseline.
More children in the intervention group, as compared to controls, experienced improvements in BMI percentile, WC, and laps completed. The mean BMI percentile among intervention children decreased 2.73 more than control children (Repeated measures ANOVA, p = .001). Similarly, the mean WC among intervention children decreased (0.22 cm), whereas the WC of controls increased (0.21 cm; Repeated measures ANOVA, p = .001). Finally, the number of laps completed during the PACER tests children in the SfS group increased dramatically (4.0 laps), while the number of laps of children in the control group decreased slightly (0.1 laps; Repeated measures ANOVA, p < .001).
Conclusions: In conclusion, the success of SfS calls for expansion of efficacious, coordinated afterschool efforts, such as the SfS program and perhaps other youth sports as well, that include physical activity/exercise, nutrition education, and healthy snacks to combat the public health issue of childhood obesity.
Author Disclosures: D. Hollar: None. W. Zhou: None. Z. Riggle: None.
- © 2015 by American Heart Association, Inc.