Effect of a two-year obesity prevention intervention on percentile changes in body mass index and academic performance in low-income elementary school children

Danielle Hollar, Sarah Messiah, Gabriela Lopez-Mitnik, T. Lucas Hollar, Marie Almon, Arthur S. Agatston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

105 Scopus citations


Objectives. We assessed the effects of a school-based obesity prevention intervention that included dietary, curricula, and physical activity components on body mass index (BMI) percentiles and academic performance among lowincome elementary school children. Methods. The study had a quasi-experimental design (4 intervention schools and 1 control school; 4588 schoolchildren; 48% Hispanic) and was conducted over a 2-year period. Data are presented for the subset of the cohort who qualified for free or reduced-price school lunches (68% Hispanic; n=1197). Demographic and anthropometric data were collected in the fall and spring of each year, and academic data were collected at the end of each year. Results. Significantly more intervention than control children stayed within normal BMI percentile ranges both years (P=.02). Although not significantly so, more obese children in the intervention (4.4%) than in the control (2.5%) decreased their BMI percentiles. Overall, intervention schoolchildren had significantly higher math scores both years (P<.001). Hispanic and White intervention schoolchildren were significantly more likely to have higher math scores (P<.001). Although not significantly so, intervention schoolchildren had higher reading scores both years. Conclusions. School-based interventions can improve health and academic performance among low-income schoolchildren.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-653
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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