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

es in adolescents across the four countries, three years of intervention had a variable effect, depending on the population group. The adolescents in the Australian schools were mainly European Australians and the programme had a significant effect on reducing overweight and obesity. However, at the other three sites in Fiji, Tonga, and Auckland, students were from a variety of Pacific Islands and Indian backgrounds and effects were mixed, with some populations showing no differences between the intervention and comparison groups.

"Once you get to high-school aged children, trying to implement an intervention at the whole community level becomes more difficult because high schools have a larger catchment area and parents and other organisations are less engaged," Swinburn said. "The usual health promotion activities - such as those aimed at increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, improving the healthiness of foods available at school, improving body image and reducing inappropriate dieting, promoting breakfast, decreasing consumption of high-sugar drinks while increasing water consumption, and increasing active transport - haven't been enough for many ethnic groups and we now need to go back and think about how best to intervene with them."

Hallmarks of success and failure have emerged from the various studies, Swinburn said. "What the school principal says and does around what the rules are seems to be much more important than the programmes and activities that the teachers are running," he said. "For instance, if the principal sets a policy that all children will participate in sports, or that the tuck shop will stock only healthy food, that does an enormous amount for change in cultural norms and expectations and the programmes tend to flow. Conversely, if the leaders are not on board and there are no policies or resources to support efforts, it is extremely hard to get meaningful changes."

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Contact: Emma Ross
rosswrite@mac.com
International Association for the Study of Obesity
Source:Eurekalert

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