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Preschool Intervention Curbed Trend Toward Obesity
Date:3/12/2008

sed to 73 percent at follow-up. Also, the percentage of children who were at risk for overweight decreased from 16 percent to 12 percent," study senior author Sarah E. Messiah, a research assistant professor in the division of pediatric clinical research, said in a prepared statement.

Compared to children in the control group, those in the intervention program ate less junk food, more fruits and vegetables, and drank less juice and more 1 percent milk. On average in the intervention group: chip consumption decreased from daily to none; cookie consumption decreased 50 percent; children ate 25 percent more fresh fruits and vegetables; water consumption increased 20 percent while juice consumption decreased 50 percent; and children drank 20 percent more 1 percent milk.

"In the control sites, cake and cookie consumption actually increased 35 percent and 75 percent, respectively, while average fresh fruit and water consumption decreased," Messiah said.

"We are hoping that our study will impact policy around the country leading to healthier standards for meals served at child-care centers. If we are successful in improving attitudes toward nutrition and physical activity in early childhood, we can potentially influence adult behavior and begin to hope that the public health epidemic of obesity can be ended," she said.

The study was to be presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association's Conference on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"Nobody would dispute that we are experiencing an epidemic of obesity in this country," study co-author Ruby Natale, an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics, said in a prepared statement. "Children as young as 7 years old are experiencing health consequences of being overweight, suggesting that intervention must occur as early as possible and involve the entire family."

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