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New data support community-wide approach to addressing child obesity
Date:6/26/2013

BOSTON (June 26, 2013)-- Community wide interventions hold promise as an effective approach to reducing childhood obesity rates according to new research from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and Tufts University School of Medicine. An analysis of data from the first two school years (20 calendar months) of the Shape Up Somerville: Eat Smart Play Hard intervention showed that schoolchildren in Somerville, Massachusetts gained less weight and were less likely to be obese or overweight than schoolchildren in two similar control communities. The results are published online ahead of print in the journal Preventive Medicine.

Designed and implemented by Tufts University researchers and the community of Somerville, Shape Up Somerville, targeted the city's public school students in grades 1-3 and engaged the adults who shaped their daily environment. Parents, teachers, school food service and health care providers, as well as city departments and local media outlets participated in and promoted initiatives that included overhauling school lunch menus; introducing nutrition education curriculum in schools; attempting to increase energy expenditure through in-school and after-school physical activity programs; and working with area restaurants to offer healthier menu items.

Compared to the control communities, the data show fewer Somerville children were obese or overweight after two full school years of the intervention. Principal Investigator Christina D. Economos, Ph.D., associate professor at the Friedman School, and colleagues used a measure called Body Mass Index (BMI) z-score to calculate the relative weight of 335 children from the intervention group and 693 children from the control group.* Over two school years, including one summer vacation, BMI z-scores decreased by 0.06 in Somerville children, signaling a modest reduction in weight gain compared to children in communities that did not rece
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Contact: Andrea Grossman
617-636-3728
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert

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