All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Retta R Evans

Advisory Committee Members

Donna J Hester

Marcia O'Neal

Bonnie A Spear

Lori W Turner

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2014

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education

Abstract

Childhood obesity is a major public health concern. The multiple effects of obesity in childhood are long-reaching. Since weight loss and maintenance are very difficult, prevention of obesity is important. Schools have been identified as an important environment for obesity prevention interventions since most children spend a large portion of the day at school. The purpose of this secondary data analysis was to determine if the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Alabama intervention improved weight status, fitness levels, and health knowledge and behaviors. A 2-by-2 repeated measures ANOVA was performed to determine whether differences exist between intervention and comparison students at pretest and posttest. Measures that were explored included BMI Z-scores, Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) scores, nutrition knowledge and behavior scores, and physical activity knowledge and behavior scores. Significant advances were observed among intervention students in contrast to comparison students from pretest to posttest for physical fitness (as measured by the PACER), and nutrition and physical activity knowledge. No significant improvements were found for weight status, nutrition behavior, or physical activity behavior. A high prevalence of obesity was observed at pretest. It may be difficult for a primary obesity prevention program to be successful among fifth grade students with such high prevalence rates. A greater effect may be found when intervening with younger children. While schools alone cannot turn the tide on childhood obesity, it is unlikely that improvements can be made without the involvement of schools and programs such as HEAL.

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