A community-based intervention increases physical activity and reduces obesity in school-age children in North Carolina.
BACKGROUND: Community-based interventions are promising approaches to obesity prevention, but few studies have prospectively evaluated them. The aim of this study was to evaluate a natural experiment—a community intervention designed to promote active living and decrease obesity within a small southern town. METHODS: In 2011, community leaders implemented the Mebane on the Move intervention—a community-wide effort to promote physical activity (PA) and decrease obesity among residents of Mebane, North Carolina. We measured child PA and BMI before and after the intervention, using a nearby town not implementing an intervention as the comparison. In total, we assessed 64 children from Mebane and 40 from the comparison community 6 months before, as well as 34 and 18 children 6 months after the intervention. We assessed PA with accelerometers worn for 7 days and calculated BMI z-scores using children's height and weight. We conducted multivariable linear regressions examining pre- to postintervention change in minutes of PA and BMI z-score, adjusting for confounders. RESULTS: At follow-up, children in Mebane modestly increased their moderate-to-vigorous PA (1.3 minutes per hour; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.2, 2.3; p=0.03) and vigorous activity (0.8 minutes per hour; 95% CI: 0.1, 1.5; p=0.04) more than comparison children. In intervention children, BMI z-scores decreased 0.5 units (kg/m(2); 95% CI: -0.9, -0.02; p=0.045), compared to children in the comparison community. CONCLUSIONS: We observed positive effects on PA level and weight status of children in Mebane, despite high rates of attrition, suggesting that the community-based intervention may have been successful.
Benjamin Neelon, SE; Namenek Brouwer, RJ; Østbye, T; Evenson, KR; Neelon, B; Martinie, A; Bennett, G
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