Environmental Influences on Diet and Physical Activity in Childhood: Opportunities for Intervention

Authors: Melissa C. Nelson, PhD, RD


The high prevalence of childhood overweight has become a national health issue, and the prevalence of overweight in rural areas is rising at a particularly accelerated rate. There is a great need for school-based intervention efforts specifically targeting the prevention and reduction of excess weight gain and other cardiovascular disease risk factors among rural children. In this issue of the Journal, Harrell et al1describe findings from such an intervention in rural Mississippi. Similar to several previous large school-based interventions, their program showed an influence on health knowledge and reported dietary intake but did not yield effects on objective health indicators. Despite this, however, the long-term impact of this intervention could be substantial, and given lengthier follow up, its effect on preventing/reducing obesity later in life may become apparent.

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