Effects of a school-based intervention to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors in elementary-school children: The Cardiovascular Health in Children (CHIC) Study
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OBJECTIVE: To test a classroom-based intervention to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors in elementary school children. STUDY DESIGN: This was a randomized, controlled field trial in 12 schools across North Carolina, stratified by geographic region and urban/rural setting. Subjects were 1274 third and fourth graders (48% boys). The intervention, taught by regular classroom and physical education teachers, provided all children an 8-week exercise program and 8 weeks of classes on nutrition and smoking. Data were analyzed at the school level with survey regression models and at the individual level with multivariate analysis of variance and analysis of covariance models; 95% confidence intervals were computed. RESULTS: Children in the intervention group had significantly greater knowledge (7.9% more correct) and a significant increase in self-reported physical activity than children in the control group. Trends for the intervention group were a reduction in total cholesterol level (-5.27 mg/dl), an increase in aerobic power, a reduction in body fat, and smaller rise in diastolic blood pressure than control children. CONCLUSIONS: This classroom-based, public health approach improved children's cardiovascular disease risk profiles; it is practical and fairly easy to incorporate into the school day. All children directly receive the potential benefits of the intervention without a risk of labeling. This program can improve health knowledge, habits, and health outcomes of young children at a time when health habits are being formed.
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