A "novel" intervention: a pilot study of children's literature and healthy lifestyles.
OBJECTIVE: To determine if reading an age-appropriate novel has the potential to improve BMI percentile and exercise- and nutrition-related knowledge and behaviors in girls aged 9 to 13 years who were enrolled in a childhood obesity-treatment program. METHODS: This preliminary, randomized, controlled trial followed 81 obese girls aged 9 to 13 years who were enrolled in the Duke University Healthy Lifestyles Program, a comprehensive clinical and behavioral lifestyle-modification program for overweight and obese children. Thirty-one girls were randomly assigned to read the intervention novel, which describes an overweight girl who discovers improved health and self-efficacy, and 33 participants were given a control novel to read. Participants were evaluated at the study intake and again at their scheduled follow-up appointments 1 to 2 months later. Intake and follow-up BMI percentiles were evaluated for 17 girls in the program who did not receive either book. RESULTS: Follow-up data were available for 11 of 31 girls in the intervention-book group, 14 of 33 girls in the control-book group, and 14 of 17 girls who did not receive a book. There was a significantly greater reduction in BMI percentile among those in the intervention-book group (-0.71) versus those in the control-book group (-0.33; P = .03). Girls who read either book had a significantly greater reduction in BMI percentile (-0.49) than girls who were followed in the program but who were not assigned a book (0.05; P = .02). CONCLUSIONS: Age-appropriate fiction, particularly if it addresses health-oriented behaviors, shows potential for augmenting weight loss in girls who participate in a weight-management program. Future research is needed to determine if the novel is effective for healthy lifestyle promotion among all overweight and obese adolescents.
Bravender, T; Russell, A; Chung, RJ; Armstrong, SC
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