A recent study evaluated the impact of the Children’s Healthy Eating and Exercise Program (CHEE) to increase positive experiences among children who lack access to resources that promote healthy lifestyles.
Obesity in general is associated with lack of physical activity, consumption of nutritious food, and educational opportunities, with poverty providing barriers to these fundamentals. Research has suggested that school based healthy eating and exercise interventions can prevent childhood obesity.
Children’s Health Eating and Exercise Program (CHEE) was developed based on three food based traffic light diet, including:
- green light foods (high in vitamins, low in fat),
- yellow light foods (moderate food),
- and red light foods (high in calories, low in nutrients).
The results of Winning with Wellness Program (WWW) implemented at a rural elementary school indicated improved food choices and health eating.
The main aim of Children’s Health Eating and Exercise Program was to assess whether the eating and exercise behaviors changed in the intervention versus the comparison group and what they have learned from these interventions.
Children’s Healthy Eating and Exercise study and results
As part of Children’s Healthy Eating and Exercise Program (CHEE), this study was conducted in an elementary school gymnasium. Seventy five percent of the families in that school were at poverty levels, where 33 children (5-10 years of age) self-selected to be part of this group and 24 children (5-9 years of age) were selected as part of comparison group from after school programs.
The sessions for Children’s Healthy Eating and Exercise Program were conducted twice a week. Each session constituted of lessons on healthy eating (20 minutes lesson with focus on discussing green and red light foods, their consumption), physical activity (35 minutes lesson with focus on running games, basketball, soccer etc.) and wrap-up session discussing the importance of nutrition education and physical activity. Handouts, newsletter were given to parents to ensure their involvement.
The study followed by a survey on a scale assessing the eating and exercise habits before and after program participation.
Survey results from parents clearly indicated the positive change in their children in terms of healthy eating and physical activity, though there was no significant change in exercise habits. Level of participation in physical activities for younger and older children was different, in which gender play a key role.
The overall results showed that children’s perception have improved, but there’s a need to fill the gap between cognitive and behavioral change through motivation.
Childhood obesity is an alarming situation and further research is required to devise strategies and programs in order to improve children’s knowledge about healthy eating and participation in physical activities
Dai, C.-L., Nabors, L. A., King, K. A., Vidourek, R. A., Chen, C.-C., Hoang, N., & Mastro, K. G. (2014). Evaluation of an Afterschool Children’s Healthy Eating and Exercise Program. International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition, 3(4), 156-162.