Intended for healthcare professionals


Preventing obesity in primary schoolchildren

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 24 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c819
  1. Esther M F van Sluijs, investigator scientist,
  2. Alison McMinn, career development fellow
  1. 1MRC Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge CB2 0QQ
  1. esther.vansluijs{at}

    School based physical activity programmes are promising, but difficult to sustain

    Childhood obesity is rapidly increasing worldwide and is associated with a higher risk of several health problems, as well as with being obese as an adult.1 Obesity is at least partly caused by an energy imbalance, which makes tackling unhealthy diets and low levels of physical activity in children key public health objectives. Physical activity in childhood has also been independently associated with health outcomes,2 3 so promoting physical activity probably has benefits beyond weight control. However, promoting physical activity in children has proved challenging, and we have little evidence available for effective strategies.4

    In the linked cluster randomised trial on (doi:10.1136/bmj.c785), Kriemler and colleagues evaluated a school based physical activity programme targeted at preventing excessive weight gain in Swiss primary schoolchildren.5 The multi-component intervention was conducted over one school year and focused on three main aspects: increasing the quality and amount of physical education, introducing short daily activity breaks during academic lessons, and providing children with daily …

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