Study Shows Three-Year Maintenance of Improved Diet and Physical Activity
Three years after their last formal encounter with elementary school lessons on the benefits of heart-healthy eating and vigorous physical activities, almost four thousand eighth graders in four states report they continue to practice much of what they learned. This follow-up of the CATCH (Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health) Study suggests that health behaviors initiated during the elementary school years persist into early adolescence. The report appears in the July 1999 issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
"We have known for a long time that cardiovascular disease risk factors begin developing at a young age," said Dr. Claude Lenfant, NHLBI director," "It is most encouraging to learn that heart-healthy behaviors can be taught to young children and that those lessons will continue to have a positive impact over several years," he said.
CATCH was the largest school-based health promotion study ever done in the U.S. The study, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health, took place between 1991 and 1994 in California, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas and involved nearly 100 ethnically and racially diverse elementary schools. It sought to determine if multicomponent health promotion efforts targeting both children's behaviors and the school environment, including classroom curricula, food service modifications, physical education changes, and family reinforcement, would reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors later in life.
The follow-up study (1995-1998) assessed differences in grades 6, 7, and
8 in diet, physical activity, and related health indicators among 3,714 (73
percent) of the initial CATCH participants. The researchers found that the
students who received the health promotion
intervention in grades 3 through 5 maintained a diet
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NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute