In a recent study, researchers at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital found that a six-month school-based weight management program resulted in weight loss and long-term weight maintenance. Their report appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
The study, led by Dr. Craig Johnston of BCM, recruited 71 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 14 years old from a middle school in Houston who were at or above the 85th percentile for body mass index (BMI), indicating that they were either overweight or obese. Participants were from low-income families and were predominately Mexican-American.
In the study, they received nutrition education for one day per week and participated in physical activity for four days per week. These core courses included teaching the adolescents about reading food labels, eating in moderation, snacking and making healthy choices when eating out, among other topics. Participants were also provided a breakfast each morning as well as a snack before they went home for the day.
"Before they go home is an important time to provide kids a healthy snack because when they get home, they tend to overeat," said Johnston, assistant professor of pediatrics at BCM.
After six months, the participants received no additional intervention. Their BMI was measured at the beginning of the study, after one year and then after two years. Researchers found that those who participated in the study showed decreases in their BMI at one and two years compared to a control group, showing that these types of interventions are effective in the long-term.
Although these types of interventions have been shown to be effective after six months, this is the first time a study shows that these interventions work in the long-term, according to Johnston.
Researchers will now study what impacted this long-term maintenance of weight loss and how to make such a program cost-effective.
Others who took part in the study include Dr. Jennette P. Moreno, Maria A. Papaioannou, Dr. Chermaine Tyler and Dr. John Foreyt of BCM and Dr. Martina R. Gallagher and Dr. Jing Wang of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing.
Funding for the study came from the Kellogg Company and the USDA.