Program

Nov 20, 2012

OVERVIEW

The Nutrition and Enjoyable Activity for Teen Girls (NEAT Girls) program is a school-based intervention targeted to prevent obesity in at-risk low-income adolescent girls through the promotion of lifetime physical activities, the reduction of sedentary behaviors, and the encouragement of healthy eating.  The only significant impact found for this program was a decrease in time spent watching television or using electronic devices by the end of the program.  No impacts were found for physical health outcomes such as body mass index or body fat percentage.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target Population: At-risk adolescent girls in low-income communities.

NEAT Girls is a school-based program designed to prevent obesity in adolescent girls living in low-income areas.  This program aims to promote lifetime physical activities, reduce sedentary behaviors, and encourage low-cost healthy eating.  NEAT Girls is implemented in secondary schools by teacher “champions,” who receive training in the program components.  The intervention lasts 12 months, and includes enhanced school sports sessions, seminars, nutrition workshops, lunch-time physical activity sessions, written materials, pedometers, parent newsletters, and supportive text messaging.  Three nutrition workshops were delivered by nutritionists. These workshops provided students with skills necessary to select, prepare and onsume healty low-cost foods. In addition, parents of participants were sent study newsletters, which included information regarding their children’s physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption.

EVALUATION OF PROGRAM

Lubans, D. R., Morgan, P. J., Okely, A. D., Dewar, D., Collins, C. E., Batterham, M., et al. (2012). Preventing obesity among adolescent girls: One-year outcomes of the Nutrition and Enjoyable Activity for Teen Girls (NEAT Girls) cluster randomized controlled trial. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, e-published ahead of print May 7, 2012, e1-e7.

Evaluated Population:  The study sample included 357 girls. At baseline, participants were in the eighth grade, with an average age of 13 years and 2 months.  Of this sample, 85.4% identified as Australian, 1.1% identified as Asian, 10.1% identified as European, and 3.1% identified as “other”.  Participants were students at secondary schools located in low-income areas of New South Wales, Australia. Girls identified by their physical education teachers as uninterested in class and/or not currently participating in sports were recruited for the study.

Approach: Twelve schools participated in the study. Within this group, schools were then matched based on geographic location, size, and demographics, and were then randomized at the school level to the NEAT Girls intervention group (6 schools, 178 girls) or control group (6 schools, 179 girls).  Participants were assessed at baseline and again at one year for the physical outcomes of body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage, and the behavioral outcomes of self-reported physical activity, screen time, dietary intake, and self-esteem.

Results:  Although positive trends were noted, there were no impacts on the physical outcomes of BMI and body fat percentage at the end of the intervention.  The only significant impact on a behavioral outcome was reduced screen time (e.g., television, video, or text-messaging?). Girls in the intervention group spent less time using these devices than girls in the control group.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Lubans, D. R., Morgan, P. J., Okely, A. D., Dewar, D., Collins, C. E., Batterham, M., et al. (2012). Preventing obesity among adolescent girls: One-year outcomes of the Nutrition and Enjoyable Activity for Teen Girls (NEAT Girls) cluster randomized controlled trial. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, e-published ahead of print May 7, 2012, e1-e7.

Contact Information

David R. Lubans, Ph.D.

Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition

School of Education

Faculty of Education and Arts

University of Newcastle

Callaghan NSW Australia 2308

david.lubans@newcastle.edu.au

KEYWORDS: Adolescents (12-17), Middle School, Female Only, High-Risk, School-based, Parent or Family Component, Obesity

Program information last updated on 11/20/12.