Community support of school obesity prevention programs is critical to achieving a significant decrease in obesity among children, according to researchers at the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living, which is part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).


Deanna Hoelscher, Ph.D., professor of behavioral sciences at UTHealth's School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus, examined obesity prevalence changes among children in Travis County after the implementation of a school-based obesity intervention program, the Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH). Hoelscher, director of the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, compared the traditional school-based focus (CATCH BasicPlus) against the traditional school-based focus with greater community input (CATCH Community). The results were published in the February issue of the journal Obesity.


The study found an 8.3 percent decrease in obesity prevalence from spring 2007 to spring 2008 among children in the CATCH Community program compared to a 1.3 percent decrease in obesity prevalence among children in the CATCH BP program. The study was conducted in low-income minority schools in Travis County. Research has shown that low-income minority children are at greater risk of being overweight. Nationally, 16.9 percent of U.S. children ages 2-19 year old are currently classified as obese, according to the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey results.


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