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Intervention lowered obesity rate in youth at high diabetes risk, HEALTHY study finds
Date:6/27/2010

An intervention in middle schools lowered the obesity rate in students at highest risk for type 2 diabetes, those who started out overweight or obese in sixth grade, an NIH-funded study has found. However, schools that implemented the program did not differ from comparison schools in the study's primary outcomethe prevalence of overweight and obesity combinedwhich had declined 4 percent in both groups of schools by the end of the three-year study.

The goal of the HEALTHY Study was to determine whether changes in school food services; longer, more intense periods of physical education; and classroom activities to promote behavior change would lower risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Conducted from the beginning of the sixth grade to the end of the eighth, the study involved 4,600 students attending 42 middle schools in seven areas of the country. Schools were randomly assigned to implement the program or serve as a comparison school.

"The study shows that a school-based program can help lower obesity and certain risk factors for type 2 diabetes in youth at high risk for the disease," said Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Researchers were surprised to find that the number of overweight and obese students had declined in comparison schools as well as program schools. "The decline in the number of overweight and obese children in comparison schools was a welcome but unexpected finding," said study chair and lead author Gary D. Foster, Ph.D., of Temple University, Philadelphia. "Future analyses will try to clarify the reasons for the improvement in these schools. For example, we'll look at the comparison schools to see if they made healthy changes to the school environment because of increased awareness about the problem of childhood obesity."

The intervention significantly lowered the obesity rate among children whose body mass index, or BMI, was i
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Contact: Joan Chamberlain
niddkmedia@mail.nih.gov
301-222-7886
NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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