Program

Aug 03, 2009

OVERVIEW

The School-Based Cardiovascular Exercise and Nutrition
Program with Parent Participation is designed to improve nutrition and increase
physical activity in elementary school children. The program has physical
fitness, nutrition, and family exercise and nutrition education components.
Study findings suggest that children in the intervention group experience
significant gains in exercise and nutrition knowledge and significant increases
in fruit and vegetable intake, compared to control group children. However,
there were no differences across groups on changes in weight, skinfold
thickness, one-mile run times, or cholesterol, saturated fat, and grain/cereal
intake.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Elementary school children and
their parents.

The School-Based Cardiovascular Exercise and Nutrition
Program with Parent Participation is designed to decrease fat and cholesterol
intake and increase physical activity in children. The intervention has
physical fitness, nutrition, and family exercise and nutrition education
components.

The physical fitness education part of the program consists
of four, 30-minute sessions delivered over the course of ten weeks. Sessions
are comprised of both knowledge-based curriculum and mandatory physical exercise
sessions. Curriculum includes lessons on warming-up and cooling-down, counting
one’s pulse, calories expended during exercise, evaluating cardiovascular
fitness, aerobic and anaerobic exercise, sports for aerobic fitness, and
contraindicated exercises. The exercise sessions focus on cardiovascular
fitness. Activities include noncompetitive games, educational gymnastics, dance
and rhythmic activities, low organizational games, and fundamental movement
skills.

The nutrition education component of the intervention
consists of two, 30-minute knowledge-based curriculum sessions per week
delivered over the course of ten weeks. Topics addressed in the sessions are
tied to discussions on cardiovascular disease. Topics covered include reduction
of saturated fat intake, preparing snacks using fruits and vegetables, preparing
heart-healthy meals, reading food labels, consuming high fiber foods, consuming
high energy foods, and preparing meat alternatives. Lessons are delivered using
a range of methods, including hands-on preparation, films, games, group
discussion, and role playing. Children are also encouraged to discuss nutrition
topics with family members.

The family exercise and nutrition aspect of the program
requires students to take nutrition and physical education curriculum materials
home to their families so that they can engage in at-home lessons with their
parents. Parents and children read a story depicting family members engaging in
healthy activities together. Families also receive instructions for preparing
healthy foods and exercising together. There is also an incentive system that
rewards children with points each time the families completed one of the program
activities. Points can be traded in for prizes. Additionally, parents are
contacted by phone once a week to go over program progress.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Hopper, C.A., Munoz, K.D., Gruber, M.B., MacConnie, S.,
Schonfeldt, B., & Shunk, T. (1996). A school-based cardiovascular exercise and
nutrition program with parent participation: An evaluation study. Children’s Health Care, 25(3), 221-235.

Evaluated population: Parents and their children
attending two second grade classrooms and two fourth grade classrooms at an
elementary school in a middle class, rural area of the United States served as
the sample for this evaluation. The sample consisted of 97 children and 69
parents. The mean age of the children was 8.9 years, and the mean age of the
parents was 36.9 years. Seventy-four percent of the parents in the study had
“white collar” jobs (e.g., teacher, accountant, buyer, or professor).

Approach: Each of the participating four classes
was randomly assigned to have its children either receive the School-Based
Cardiovascular Exercise and Nutrition Program with Parent Participation
intervention or to a no-treatment control group. Children in the control
condition received their regularly scheduled health and physical education
curriculums. Children in the intervention group participated in the ten week
program, as described above, in addition to their regularly scheduled
curriculums. Children also participated in the at-home activities with their
families.

Children’s height, weight, sum of skinfolds, and
performance on a one-mile timed run were assessed at baseline and at post-test.
Parent- and child- data on nutrition and physical activity knowledge, as well as
dietary intake in the past 24 hours were also collected.

Results: Results indicate that children in the
intervention group scored significantly higher than children in the control
group on measures of fitness and nutrition knowledge (a small effect size of
.18). Furthermore, intervention children reported greater increases in fruit
and vegetable intake by the conclusion of the intervention period relative to
control children (a small effect size of .05). Intervention and control
children did not differ on changes in height, weight, skinfold thickness,
one-mile run times, or cholesterol, saturated fat, and grain/cereal intake.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Hopper, C.A., Munoz, K.D., Gruber, M.B., MacConnie, S.,
Schonfeldt, B., & Shunk, T. (1996). A school-based cardiovascular exercise and
nutrition program with parent participation: An evaluation study. Children’s Health Care, 25(3), 221-235.

KEYWORDS: Children, Elementary, Co-ed,
School-based, Skills Training, Rural and/or Frontier, Nutrition, Physical
Activity, Weight, Obesity, Middle Childhood (6 to 11)

Program information last updated on 8/3/09.