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School based programmes on obesity

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 03 November 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1018

Increase knowledge about nutrition but do not change eating habits by much

  1. Richard L Atkinson, professor of medicine and nutritional science,
  2. Susan A Nitzke, professor of nutritional science
  1. Departments of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA

    Papers pp 1027, 1029

    The prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically in the past 20 years, and the World Health Organization has declared obesity a global epidemic.1 The increase in prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity is a particular worry. To combat this epidemic, educational programmes and policies in schools would seem to be a logical response. Two articles by Sahota et al in this issue examine the Active Programme Promoting Lifestyle Education in School, which was instituted in 10 schools in Leeds, England, over one year (pp 1027, 1029). 2 3 Their result reveal a paradox: cooperation by parents, teachers, administrators, and children was very good, and their knowledge and awareness about nutrition increased significantly. However, children's nutrition habits changed only slightly, and there were no changes in other outcomes.

    The authors focus on one positive change over the school year—an increase in vegetable consumption of almost 50%. They give less emphasis, however, to other less favourable changes, such as a fall in the consumption of fruits, increase in consumption …

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