Department of Pediatrics, Georgia Prevention Institute, Augusta, USA.
Objective: To test the hypothesis that third grade children (mean age = 8.7, SD = 0.5) who attended an 8-month after-school program would exhibit favorable changes in body composition, cardiovascular fitness, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol compared with children in control condition.
Research Methods And Procedures: Subjects were 61% African-American, 31% white, and 8% other racial background from 18 public schools. Sixty-eight percent were eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Percentage body fat and bone mineral density were assessed by DXA, cardiovascular fitness by heart rate response to a step test, resting blood pressure with a Dinamap, and non-fasting total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol by finger stick. Data pre- and post-intervention were available for 447 children. Children in the nine intervention schools who attended at least 40% of the after-school sessions were compared with control subjects.
Results: Compared with the control subjects and after controlling for race, sex, free/reduced price lunch status, and school-level covariates, youths in the intervention group showed a relative reduction of percentage body fat [-0.76 (95% confidence interval (CI), -1.42, -0.09)], a greater relative gain in bone mineral density [0.008 (95% CI, 0.001, 0.005)], and a greater relative reduction in heart rate response to the step test [-4.4 (95% CI, -8.2, 0.6)]. The other outcome variables showed non-significant trends in favor of the intervention subjects.
Discussion: These results are promising in light of the potential impact on the emerging childhood obesity epidemic. The Medical College of Georgia FitKid Project has the potential to be institutionalized because it is built on the existing infrastructure in most public schools in the U.S.
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