Kids Lose Pounds, Gain Fitness, in Houston Study
By Marcia Wood
March 1, 2010
Innovative, kid-friendly strategies for
losing weight and gaining nutrition savvyplus physical fitness
skillsare emerging from scientific studies funded by the
Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
For example, investigators Craig A.
P. Foreyt and Chermaine Tyler and their colleagues are building upon one of
their earlier studies in which many of their Texas middle-school participants
achieved weight-management success. The volunteers were primarily Hispanic
children who were either overweight or at risk of becoming so.
The researchers are with the ARS
Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College
of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where Johnston and Tyler are instructors in
nutrition and Foreyt is a professor of medicine.
Statistics that the scientists reported for the 6-month study were based on
57 overweight kids who were assigned to either a self- and parent-taught
program, or, instead, an intensive, instructor-led regimen.
For instance, once a week for the first 3 months of the investigation, kids
in the self-taught group spent time in study hall reading a self-help
weight-management textbook for youngsters. Meanwhile, their peers in the
instructor-led team spent four class periods a week outdoors, improving their
physical fitness, with a fifth session each weekindoorslearning
about nutrition, healthy eating, and behavior-change skills essential for
living an active lifestyle and making healthful food choices.
When evaluated at the end of the 6-month study, kids in the intensive,
instructor-led course had significantly greater weight loss as well as greater
"physical quality of life"as measured by their answers to a
standard questionnairethan did the kids in the self-taught program.
What's more, one and two years later, youngsters in the instructor-led team had
significantly greater decreases in their body mass index, or BMI, than did the
These preliminary results suggest that a school-based weight-management
program might be effective in reaching large numbers of kids, according to the
scientists. They published their findings in the journal Obesity in 2009 and in
more about this research in the March 2010 Agricultural Research
magazine special issue on preventing childhood obesity.
ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Houston
research helps improve children's nutrition and health, a USDA top priority.