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Success of community interventions for childhood obesity varies depending on the target age group
Date:7/13/2010

ation projects conducted elsewhere, suggest we should get moving to scale up efforts in the under-5s. There hasn't been that much research in this age group, but what has been done around the world indicates these children seem to be the most susceptible to change," Swinburn said. "For primary school children, the effects seen in studies aren't as strong, but there's enough evidence to say we should roll out what we know. But for adolescents, programmes seem to have an effect for some groups but not others. For Pacific populations, in particular, we saw little impact on weight gain and for those groups, unfortunately, we need to go back to the drawing board."

In Swinburn's study, the best results were seen in the programme that targeted children under five. It involved 12,000 children targeted in multiple settings, such as pre-schools, day care, homes and maternal and child health services. After three years, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among the children in the intervention group was about 3 percentage points lower than that in the comparison group. This programme was also notable for its very small budget for the interventions (AUD100,000 in total) so most of the work was 'in-kind' from the existing personnel and budgets of community organizations.

The project targeting primary school aged children also had a significant impact, Swinburn said. The intervention wasn't sufficient to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity, but it did slow down the rate of unhealthy weight gain - after three years, the children gained about 1kg less than they otherwise would have. "One kilogram over three years sounds very unimpressive on an individual level, but if you are influencing a whole population, including normal-weight children, then because it's an average it's actually quite meaningful. Small changes applied across a whole population can have a significant impact on disease outcomes," he said.

When it came to the studi
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Contact: Emma Ross
rosswrite@mac.com
International Association for the Study of Obesity
Source:Eurekalert

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