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Childhood obesity intervention shows promising results

BOSTON, MA -- Shape Up Somerville: Eat Smart. Play Hard. a community-based environmental change intervention to prevent obesity in culturally diverse, early elementary school children reduced weight gain over one school year. The multi-faceted program was designed and implemented by researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the Tufts University School of Medicine in close collaboration with the community. The first year results reflect efforts of children, parents, teachers, school food service providers, health care providers and policy makers, as well as city departments, before-and-after school programs, restaurants, and local media outlets to provide and promote healthy eating options and physical activity among elementary school-aged children in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Corresponding author Christina Economos, PhD, assistant professor and New Balance Chair in Childhood Nutrition at the Friedman School, and colleagues used a measure called BMI-z score (or BMI-for-age percentile)* to report a reduction in weight gain among children who participated in the Shape Up Somerville (SUS) intervention, as compared to children in two socio-demographically similar communities in Massachusetts who did not receive the intervention.

"On average, SUS reduced approximately one pound of weight gain over eight months for an eight-year-old child. This may seem small for an individual, but on a population level this reduction in weight gain, observed through a decrease in BMI z-score, would translate into large numbers of children moving out of the overweight category. Such a reduction is important given todays obesigenic environment where the shifts continue to be observed in the opposite direction," says Economos.

A key element of the intervention was the work done in collaboration with Somerville schools. Economos and her team planned and implemented a range of initiatives designed to pr
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Contact: Christine Fennelly
christine.fennelly@tufts.edu
617-636-3707
Tufts University, Health Sciences
10-May-2007


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