Objectives: Childhood obesity and poor lifestyle practices are emerging as major public health challenges in the Caribbean. Given the fact that a significant part of childhood is spent at school, curriculum-based interventions aimed at improving good dietary and physical activity patterns may provide a useful vehicle for mass inculcation of long-term healthy lifestyle practices. In this study, we evaluated the long-term impact of a brief curriculum based intervention on dietary behaviour, physical activity and knowledge level of primary schoolchildren.
Methods: The study was a randomized, controlled, school-based nutrition education and physical activity intervention. One hundred students each were then randomly assigned to the intervention (IVG) and non-intervention (NIVG) groups and followed-up for 18 months. Participants in the IVG group were exposed to a curriculum consisting of six one-hour modules followed by school-based activities geared at fostering healthy behaviours. Students in the non-intervention group did not receive any modules and were subject to the information available at school on a regular basis.
Results: In multivariate regression equations controlling for age, gender, body mass index (BMI) and baseline values, intervention was associated with lower intake of fried foods and sodas (p < 0.05) and higher knowledge scores (p < 0.01) 18 months later but not significantly associated with improved physical activity or lower BMI.
Conclusions: In this study, participants in the intervention group reported significantly lower intakes of fried foods and sodas and higher knowledge scores than participants in the control group some 18 months post-intervention independent of age, gender, BMI, ethnicity and the intakes at baseline.