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Exercise after School to Stay Fit

Exercise after School to Stay FitResearch has shown that children from low-income neighborhoods are at higher risk of being obese and overweight than children from affluent neighborhoods. In fact, one-third of low-income children enter kindergarten either overweight or obese. In an effort to address this issue, UCLA researchers implemented and evaluated the effectiveness of a pilot after-school health-promotion program that focused on increasing opportunities for physical activity and healthy snacks for students, in grades three through five, at four low-income, diverse elementary schools in Los Angeles County.

After-school staff members were trained by UCLA researchers to implement the evidence-based, sequential nutrition and physical-activity curriculum. Data were collected on students’ nutrition and physical-activity knowledge and behavior, and their height and weight measurements, at the beginning and end of the academic year. Results showed that the proportion of children who were obese or overweight in the intervention group decreased by 3.1 percent by the end of the school year, compared with a 2-percent reduction among children in the comparison group. The study found mixed results regarding diet and physical-activity knowledge and behavior.

The authors conclude that enhancing after-school physical-activity opportunities through evidence-based programs can potentially benefit low-income children who are overweight or obese. In addition, as approximately 60 percent of the students in the study were Asian-American, the study helps address the dearth of published research on childhood obesity among Asian-Americans.

“Improving Overweight among At-risk Minority Youth: Results of a Pilot Intervention in After-school Programs,” Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, May 2013, Supplement


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