This research programme was designed to evaluate and hence critically appraise the effectiveness of pilot programmes in schools to prevent the obesity in children. Researchers recruited a total of 218 students age 5-7 from three primary schools in Oxford. They were randomly allocated to a control group or one of three interventions groups namely, (i) nutrition group, (ii) physical activity group, and (iii) combined nutrition and physical activity group.
The methods employed by these researchers are interesting as they divide the children into different groups and measure the individual data against the group data. 4. 5. 1: Cluster One – Nutrition Group (‘Eat Smart’) Children’s concepts of health were explored through their drawings in the first term. Researchers then promoted fruit and vegetables using tasting sessions and games based on the ‘Give me 5’ [British Dietetic Association (BDA), 2000] message in the second term.
Specific positive messages about ‘power’ foods (high starch foods) were given out, concentrating on breakfast and snacking; quizzes, flash cards and craftwork were used as teaching aids in the third term. In the last and the fourth term, tooth friendly foods were explored, which consolidated the previous term’s work. 4. 5. 2: Cluster Two – Physical Activity Group (‘Play Smart’) In this part the researchers designed the physical activity programme so as to promote the activity in daily life rather than the promotion of specific leisure pursuits, which would not be accessible to everyone.
Insects were used as a theme to explore the concepts of energy and activity. In the second and third terms the promotion of activity in the playground and a reduction in television viewing were specifically addressed. Here the researchers used team games, fun physical activities and quizzes. They translated the The US Recommendations for Physical Activity in children into an ‘activity pyramid’ (Frary and Johnson, 2000, Nutrition Bulletin, 25, 329–334), which formed the basis of the fourth term’s lessons.