"In order for this to be successful, there has to be good training and good support to the teens. But the right teens with the right help and support can make a big difference."
The research is published online and will appear in a future print issue of the Journal of School Nursing.
In all, 160 schoolchildren in the third and fourth grades participated in the intervention, along with 32 teen mentors and five adult teachers. The study took place at three public schools in the same county, and teen mentors attended high schools affiliated with the participating elementary schools.
Each one-hour session with the curriculum included 45 minutes of structured activities and 15 minutes of noncompetitive physical activity. Weekly topics included keeping the body healthy, the importance of exercise, food groups, portion control, emotional eating, food cravings and building more activity into daily life.
Though "Just for Kids!" targets obesity, the researchers told the children the program promoted being healthier and making healthy choices. Among the third- and fourth-graders, 29.7 percent were obese based on a body mass index (BMI) ranking above the 95th percentile for their age group. Another 18.9 percent were overweight, 51.4 percent were normal weight and 0.7 percent were underweight. The kids ranged in age from 8 to 11 years.
Smith collected baseline information on a number of measures and repeated assessments after the eight-week study. In addition to BMI and blood pressure readings, health measures included dietary behaviors, physical activity, attitudes about healthy eating and exercising, and intention to or having confidence in their ability to eat better and move more.
After the intervention, only the teen-mentored group showed a greater increase in physical activity and margina
|Contact: Laureen Smith|
Ohio State University