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Local groups publish first-ever study of six-year obesity trends among school children

Posted: Tue, Oct 3, 2017 8:59 AM

What's the most effective way to reduce childhood obesity?  That was the topic of research conducted by the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative, Luther College and Mayo Clinic.  The research examined the impact of the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative on rates of increase in Body Mass Index in elementary school children families in Allamakee, Clayton, Chickasaw, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek Counties over the course of six years.

The data was compiled over six years from more than 4,000 elementary school students in ten Northeast Iowa school districts.  The analysis led researchers to conclude that students who experienced the Fitness Initiative for several years showed slower rates of growth in BMI across the kindergarten through fifth-grade years.  The study shows the techniques used by the Fitness Initiative are working by providing improved access to healthier foods and physical activities.

The collaboration produced the paper "Slowing BMI Growth Trajectories in Elementary School-Aged Children: The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative," which was published in Family and Community Health: The Journal of Health Promotion and Maintenance.

Luther College psychology professor Loren Toussaint said, "The collaboration is continuing to work to assess BMI and understand contributors to childhood obesity. We are actively collecting data, planning for future programming, and using the results of analyses to inform our next steps. We are writing grants and seeking out potential funders to support this work. Our continuing aim is to bring together a collaboration with multiple levels of expertise and work together as students, faculty, and community to address childhood obesity."