Editorial

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

Authors: Melissa C. Nelson, PhD, RD

Abstract

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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References

1.Harrell TK, Davy BM, Stewart JL, et al. Effectiveness of a school-based intervention to increase health knowledge of cardiovascular disease risk factors among rural Mississippi middle-school children. South Med J 2005;98:1173–1180.
 
2.French SA, Story M, Jeffery RW. Environmental influences on eating and physical activity. Annu Rev Public Health 2001;22:309–335.
 
3.Dishman RK, Motl RW, Saunders R, et al. Enjoyment mediates effects of a school-based physical-activity intervention. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2005;37:478–487.
 
4.Robinson TN, Killen JD, Kraemer HC, et al. Dance and reducing television viewing to prevent weight gain in African-American girls: the Stanford GEMS pilot study. Ethn Dis. 2003;13 (Suppl 1):S65–77.
 
5.Nelson MC, Gordon-Larsen P, Adair LS, et al. Adolescent physical activity and sedentary behavior: patterning and long-term maintenance. Am J Prev Med 2005;28:259-266.
 
6.National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services. The 2005 Report to the Secretary: Rural Health and Human Service Issues. Available at: http://ruralcommittee.hrsa.gov/nacpubs.htm. Accessed June 22, 2005.