2010 - Research

Effect of a Two-Year Obesity Prevention Intervention on Percentile Changes in Body Mass Index and Academic Performance in Low-Income Elementary School Children

This is a study of the effects of a school-based obesity prevention interventions that included dietary, curricula, and physical activity components on body mass index (BMI) percentiles and academic performance among low-income elementary school children.

  • The study had a quasi-experimental design (4 intervention schools and 1 control school; 4588 schoolchildren; 48% Hispanic). Data are presented for the subset of the cohort who qualified for free or reduced-price school lunches (68% Hispanic; n=1197).
  • Health findings:
    • Significantly more intervention than control children stayed within normal BMI percentile ranges both years.
    • Although not significantly so, more obese children in the intervention (4.4%) than in the control (2.5%) decreased their BMI percentiles.
  • Academic findings:
    • Intervention schoolchildren had significantly higher math scores both years.
    • Hispanic and White intervention schoolchildren were significantly more likely to have higher math scores.
    • Although not significantly so, intervention schoolchildren had higher reading scores both years.
  • School-based interventions can improve health and academic performance among low-income schoolchildren.

Hollar, Danielle, Messiah, Sarah E., Lopez-Mitnik, Gabriela, Hollar, T. Lucas, Almon, Marie, Agatston, Arthur S. “Effect of a Two-Year Obesity Prevention Intervention on Percentile Changes in Body Mass Index and Academic Performance in Low-Income Elementary School Children.” American Journal of Public Health. 100.4 (2010):646-653.