A Community Intervention to Promote Fitness by Age 5

Thursday, 15 July 2010: 8:30 AM

Kathleen Sellers, PhD
School of Nursing, State University of New York Institute of Technology, Utica, NY

Learning Objective 1: List demographics of

Learning Objective 2: Identify strategies that potentially prevents obesity in young preschool -age children.


Young children have the right to live in a community environment that promotes health and fitness. The purpose of a  Rural Community Partnership to Promote Health and Fitness by Age 5, a population based, multi-pronged intervention, was to decrease obesity among young preschool-age children.

Methods: Bronfenbrenner's (1986) ecological theory and Roger's (1962) Diffusion of Innovation guided this study.

Using a cross-sectional, experimental design, focus groups and community participatory research methods, 4 community partners (early childhood educators, the healthcare community, the business community, and parents), were targeted to make lifestyle changes (1) increase consumption of fruit, vegetables, and low fat milk (2)increase physical activity, and (3) decrease television and video watching, in the environment where young children dwell; thereby lowering the BMI of preschoolers in the intervention over control group.

The target population was preschool children aged 2-5 years living in two rural school districts in upstate New York 60 miles apart.

Intervention vs. control groups were compared using: Student t-tests, Chi square, Mantel Haenszel X2 (nominal variables); Mantel Haenszel test (rank ordered variables); ANOVA, Rate difference test for independent proportions (1-sided p-value) (change over time)Results: 1)Focus groups revealed that early childhood educators recognized their current role includes controlling and influencing the environment thus developing healthy habits in young preschool-age children.

(2)Nurses and providers in the intervention vs. control participating healthcare practices significantly increased BMI screening (p<0.001) and counseling of parents of overweight vs. non-overweight children regarding diet/nutrition (p=0.02) and activity (0.05).

(3)Children in the intervention community reported significantly fewer hours per week viewing television than in the control group (18.9 vs.13.6 hours/seek, respectively, p<0.001)

(4)Trends towards significance were found in lowering BMI of young preschool-age children in the intervention over control community.

Conclusion: This community based intervention created awareness of successful strategies required to stem the  epidemic of childhood obesity, a global problem.