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Inexpensive school intervention helps kids beat obesity

Harold Mandel's picture
Healthy eating

A very inexpensive school intervention program has been observed to help kids beat obesity.


Obesity in kids has been a tragically growing problem. Aside from the emotional scars associated with being obese these kids are confronted with an increased risk for serious illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

A school program that costs less than 20 cents a day can help kids beat obesity

A very inexpensive school intervention program which costs less than 20 cents per child has been shown to stop unhealthy weight gain in kids reports the European Society of Cardiology. A nutritionist who works at the Institute of Cardiology of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil by the name of Ms Daniela Schneid Schuh points out that even though obesity has reached a plateau in developed countries it continues to increase in many countries which are developing, such as Brazil. She says it is important to develop low-cost ways to prevent people from becoming overweight, beginning in childhood.

A randomized controlled trial was created to test the effectiveness of an intervention to stop obesity in kids. This was called Healthy School, Happy School and was conducted in Feliz, Brazil. The Portuguese word for happy is Feliz. Although there is a high human development index in Feliz there are many health problems associated with urbanization and poor eating habits.

Obese kids are often bullied

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The interventions in the study took place every month at the schools. There were seminars and workshops dealing with physical activities, healthy eating habits and bullying. There were kids who were not at all satisfied with their body image who shared that classmates bullied them for being obese. There was a suggestion for homework activities with family interaction and a strong commitment to accomplish the goals. There was also a promotion of healthy eating by schools with the display of posters and selling of nutritious food at the snack bar.

A significant increase in the consumption of fruit and physical activity in the intervention group of kids was observed. Ms Schuh said it cost less than 20 cents per student to implement this intervention. This implies this could be used cost effectively in other settings. She shared that this intervention in a school setting could put a stop to an increase in BMI.

Kids have more hope for healthy and happy lives with healthy lifestyles and good nutrition

Ms Schuh says that being able to increase physical activity and fruit consumption in kids may be vital for building a healthy and happy life for them. It is worth considering a similar approach to help confront the growing obesity problem in the United States and other countries worldwide.

There are both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being from obesity reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are generally increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol in obese kids.

Furthermore there is more likely to be prediabetes in obese adolescents. Obese kids also have an increased risk for social and psychological problems, sleep apnea, and bone and joint problems. It has been observed that kids who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults. They therefore have an increased risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

There is a decreased risk of becoming obese and developing associated diseases with healthy lifestyle habits which include healthy eating and staying physically active. Schools can play a particularly vital role in helping to support healthy behaviors. The potential for much better health in kids who are not obese certainly makes the small investment which is necessary for schools to encourage healthy lifestyles worth it.