Abstract MP30: More Young Children in an Obesity Prevention Intervention in MS and LA Head Start Centers Improve/Maintain BMI Percentile and Waist Circumference Compared to Nonparticipants
Introduction: Although reports show obesity plateauing among some young children, it remains a significant health problem in the Deep South. Head Start Centers can be leaders in prevention because children spend the majority of the day there, so interventions addressing food, education, and physical activity have potential since dosage is high.
Hypothesis: We hypothesized that more children in the intervention would: 1) remain in the normal body mass index (BMI) percentile category (for age and gender in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and/or improve their status; and 2) have healthier waist circumference (WC) measures at the end of each year.
Methods: The Thriving Communities, Thriving Children (TC2) intervention includes menu changes, nutrition and health education, and daily exercise. Our randomized design includes 6 MS Head Start Centers (3 Intervention (I)/3 Control (C)) and 6 LA Head Starts (3 I/3 C). Height, weight, and waist circumference are measured two times a year (fall and spring), for three years. Demographic data provided via administrative records. All children eat breakfast, lunch, and snacks at Centers.
Results: The year-one sample presented here includes 681 low-income children ages 2-5 (396 intervention/285 control). The majority of children are African American (92.1%; 6.1% Hispanic, 1.2% White); 50.9% males. There was no difference between groups regarding demographic characteristics nor baseline BMI percentile.
More children in the intervention group, as compared to controls, experienced health improvements as measured by BMI percentile and WC. The mean BMI percentile among intervention children decreased 0.7 (from 55.573 to 54.904), whereas the mean among control children increased 5.2 (from 49.735 to 54.904). Repeated measures ANOVA showed that this difference was significant, p < .001.
Similarly, the mean WC among intervention children increased less than among control children. Specifically, WC among intervention children increased 0.8 cm (from 53.628 to 54.422), whereas the mean among control children increased 2.0 cm (from 53.617 to 55.612). Repeated measures ANOVA showed that this difference was significant, p = .018
Conclusions: In this sample of children from the most obese geographic area of the US, an obesity intervention shows significant health effect. Thus, continuing, and expansion of this model addressing foods served, integration of nutrition and health education into Head Start lessons, and encouragement of daily exercise, has much promise to improve obesity status of young children.
Author Disclosures: D. Hollar: None. C. Heitz: A. Employment; Significant; The OrganWise Guys, Inc.. W. Zhou: None.
- © 2015 by American Heart Association, Inc.