Approaches to Reducing Childhood Obesity Must be Multi-Pronged

By Allison Kannam

Childhood obesity is a major public health issue globally and there has recently been increased attention to effective preventive interventions. When children enter elementary school, they are at an ideal age for prevention efforts that may help reduce weight problems later in life. To that end, a randomized control trial led by the University of Birmingham investigated the clinical impacts of a healthy lifestyle intervention in schools for 6 and 7 year olds. Their findings indicated that the intervention did not influence weight status for participants, and they concluded that school-based interventions alone are not adequate to address issues of childhood obesity.

The WAVES (West Midlands ActiVe lifestyle and healthy Eating in School) study involved 1,500 students and the experimental group participated in a 12-month intervention that included an additional 30 minutes of daily physical activity in schools, a 6-week curriculum run by a local soccer club, and increased parent engagement via periodic mailings and workshops about exercise and healthy cooking. Indicators such as weight and blood pressure were measured at the start of the intervention, after 15 months, and after 30 months. In addition, the children used an activity tracker for five days; took assessments about quality of life, social acceptance, and body image; and recorded their dietary intake.

Since the intervention did not result in a change in weight status among the children, the researchers emphasize that while schools are important places to teach about healthy behavior, additional interventions on the community and family level as well as policy changes are imperative to address childhood obesity.


Citation: University of Birmingham. (2018, February 7). Schools alone cannot help to prevent childhood obesity, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 26, 2018 from