"If those children could sustain the changes in food and physical activity then that would make a [weight] difference in the long term," says lead author Carolyn Summerbell, a professor of human nutrition at the University of Teesside in England.
According to Summerbell, the health programs that are effective for children are those that put some fun into fitness and food. Dance programs based on the latest music are popular with girls, while boys often enjoy martial arts. "They don't want the boring old sports and training that are often in the curriculum," she says.
Likewise, diet change can be accomplished through fun, social events such as healthy eating clubs and interesting food preparation. "The standard boring vegetables, your boiled cabbage, is like circuit training. You need to think how a young mind thinks. A stir-fry and a dance class is great," reports Summerbell.
The updated review, which appears in the July issue of The Cochrane Library, includes 22 studies. That's more than double the number available when the review was originally published in 2001. This is good news, according to the report, because "It is becoming increasingly clear that decision makers need much more information upon which to base policy and program decisions."
The Cochrane Library is a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.
Studies in this review comprised about 10,000 children in Asia, S
Contact: Carolyn Summerbell
Center for the Advancement of Health