A Healthy Living Project

Wednesday, July 13, 2011: 4:05 PM

Ann Laughlin, PhD, RN1
Meghan Potthoff, MSN, APRN2
Misty Schwartz, PhD, MSN3
Barbara Synowiecki, MSN, APRN2
Amy Yager, MSN, APRN2
Ryan Walters, MS, BS4
(1)Creighton University School of Nursing, Omaha, NE
(2)Nursing, Creighton University School of Nursing, Omaha, NE
(3)N, Creighton University School of Nursing, Omaha, NE
(4)Research, Creighton University, Omaha, NE

Learning Objective 1: 1)The learner will understand how nursing students, in partnership with schools, can implement components of a coordinated school health program to address a need.

Learning Objective 2: 3)The learner will understand the benefits/limitations of specific tools used to measure health behaviors/outcomes related to nutrition and physical activity in school age children

Purpose: Childhood obesity is epidemic with significant consequences.  Strategies focused on preventing obesity may be the best approach.  Schools are an ideal environment for prevention but how do children, attending schools without nurses, learn strategies for a healthy lifestyle?   A coordinated school health program provided the framework that addressed this question.  Purpose: Determine if:  1) obesity prevention strategies, consisting of a health curriculum, increased physical activity, parent involvement, and school health promotion would result in a lower rate of increase in body mass index; 2) the intervention increases physical activity levels, decreases total caloric intake, and increases the percentage of total calories from fruit and vegetable consumption; 3) to assess for maintenance/decreases in waist circumference and skin fold thickness.       

Methods:  Two schools were assigned to a control and two to an intervention group.  Third and Fourth graders in the intervention schools received health teaching over two years by nursing students.   Students implemented teaching, developed newsletters /posters that reinforced the curriculum, and involved parents and faculty.   Physical activity was integrated consisting of physical education classes and periods of activity incorporated into the school day.  Outcomes were health behaviors (diet diaries and activity questionnaires) and health status indicators (BMI, BMI Z scores, triceps skin fold thickness, waist circumference).  An ANOVA was used to analyze the scores of the control and intervention groups over three time periods. 

 Results:  BMI percentile and zBMI produced non-significant interactions.  Although the means indicated an increase in both outcome measures over time for the control group, the intervention group displayed slight decreases.  The interaction effect for waist circumference and skinfold thickness achieved statistical significance.  No changes were noted for caloric intake or physical activity.

 Conclusion:  Obesity prevention strategies are important.  A partnership between a nursing school and local schools can have an impact on the health of children.