AMES, Iowa -- A new Iowa State University study found that a family, school and community intervention program helps children live healthier lives and could be a new tool in the fight against the nation's childhood obesity epidemic.
In the study, children who participated in The Switch program -- a program developed by the Minneapolis-based National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF) -- watched an average of two fewer hours of television and also consumed two more servings of fruits and vegetables per week than those who weren't in the program. Program participants also walked 300 more steps per day.
"The successes in this study were modest, which is what one would expect," said Iowa State Assistant Professor of Psychology Douglas Gentile, the lead researcher and director of research for NIMF. "People usually make incremental changes, but those add up over time."
In addition to Gentile, the 10-member research team included ISU researchers Greg Welk, an associate professor of kinesiology; and Dan Russell, a professor of human development and family studies; as well as former Iowa State kinesiology professor Joey Eisenmann. The research team authored a paper on their results, which has been posted online in BMC Medicine Evaluation, a professional journal in the United Kingdom.
The researchers evaluated the eight-month intervention program in a group of 1,323 students (third, fourth and fifth graders) and their parents from 10 schools -- split between Lakeville, Minn., and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Measures of the key behaviors were collected three times from the children -- prior to administering the program, immediately after it was completed, and six months following its completion.
The Switch program encourages children to "Switch what they Do, View and Chew" and features three components: community, school and family. The community component promotes awareness of the importance of healthy lifestyles using paid adve
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Iowa State University