Expert Commentary

School-based Intervention for diabetes risk reduction

2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on the effects of a school-based program addressing risk factors for diabetes and obesity.

In the United States, about 19% of children and adolescents are obese. Without any change in eating and lifestyle patterns, overweight children are more likely to grow up overweight, which contributes to the odds of their becoming diabetic later in life.

A 2010 paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, “A School-Based Intervention for Diabetes Risk Reduction,” investigated the effects of a health-intervention program aimed at children with high-risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.  The health intervention incorporated nutritional, physical, behavioral and communication aspects.

After the three-year study period, the researchers found that:

  • Schools with and without health interventions and registered significant declines in the proportion of students who are overweight and obesity.
  • Among children who were overweight or obese at the start of the study, children in schools with health interventions were 19% less likely of being obese compared to children in schools without health interventions at the end of the study.
  • The proportion of students with waist circumference at or above the 90th percentile declined by a larger magnitude in schools with health interventions.
  • Children in the intervention schools had significantly lower mean insulin levels.

The researchers theorized that this intervention delivered results due to the intervention’s holistic aspects, extended period of study and sustained compliance by subjects.  Furthermore, health interventions for overweight children might be more likely to succeed in a supportive school environment.

Tags: children, nutrition, obesity, poverty

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