Jan 7 2009

School interventions work! (Sometimes)

It’s always nice to have some evidence for what you think makes sense.  David Katz and his Yale colleagues analyzed a bunch of studies attempting to improve both school nutrition and physical fitness.  Taken one by one, these studies generally showed negligible improvements in body weight, if any.  But these investigators analyzed a selected group of 19 (of 64) studies that met their inclusion criteria.  Taken collectively, these studies showed that the interventions improved body weight.  The overall effects on weight were small, but in the hoped-for direction.  Katz et al’s conclusion: combined nutrition and physical activity interventions are worth doing, especially when they include parental involvement along with cutting down on TV.

If the link to the paper doesn’t work for you, try the abstract on PubMed.

  • Ivan Road

    Help me out here.

    As you say, “these studies show negligible improvement in body weight”

    Okay. That’s a data point.

    Now let’s massage and spin:

    “investigators analyzed a selected group of 19 (of 64) studies that met their inclusion criteria. Taken collectively, these studies showed that the interventions improved body weight. The overall effects on weight were small, but in the hoped-for direction.”

    A: “hoped for direction” isn’t science. If your study has a ‘hoped for direction’ it’s politics, not science. It’s crusading and preaching, NOT science.

    B: Health outcomes? Even cheesy health markers? Surrogate markers? Only body weight.

    C: “especially when they include parental involvement along with cutting down on TV.” I find this odd, condescending, and fraught with moralizing.

    Suppose these kids spend three or four hours a day ‘reading’. Would that be unhealthful and slothful? What if they spent three or four hours a day at their desks doing homework? Would that contribute to obesity? What if they spent three hours a day praying or meditating? Would that contribute to obesity?

    It may be politically correct to implement all these programs. But they don’t do much of anything.

  • Daniel Ithaca,NY

    In one of our local newspapers, there is this lovely story about an elementary school program in it’s second year and how it is having a big impact on students.
    Children are being served healthy snacks! Fruits and vegetables! (sans the dip) Just simple raw fruits and vegetables. I see the program as being very successful. Frequently I am in the classrooms where a morning snack: a large bowl of two fruits and an afternoon snack: a big bowl of two vegetables are available to each class.
    I must give the teachers credit for understanding how important this is and allowing their class to participate 2x/day. Some teachers even push this farther and increase participation by encouraging students to take a ” ‘no thank you’ bite” after initial refusal. Teachers and other adults in the room often take part in eating a serving of the snack–modeling the desired behavior. Sure some of the recorded intake could be considered “Mindless Eating” (author Brian Wansink) but it’s great to see the level of participation. Kindergartners asking for seconds on celeriac or beets! Wonderful!

    http://www.ithacatimes.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=8649&SectionID=16&SubSectionID=83&S=1

    I’ll update this page with results of this Cornell University study.