By: Sarah Watson, Ph.D., M.S. Childhood Obesity Intervention Proposal
I am a Registered Dietician with a Masters of Science in Community Nutrition and a Ph.D. in Lifespan Nutrition
I have conducted and published four primary research papers on childhood obesity in elementary school students.
I have worked with 20 elementary schools in reengineering school lunch programs.
I have reduced obesity rates by 25% in the majority of schools that have used my program.
I have received a grant from the ADA to work with five states to reduce obesity rates in elementary schools.
Problem Childhood Obesity
Obesity is defined as a BMI in 95 th percentile and overweight is a BMI in 85 th percentile
16% of Arkansas children are overweight and 14% are obese.
Only 40% of children meet recommended physical activity levels and most do not get the RDA of vitamins and minerals.
Medical costs related to obesity in Arkansas are $633 million dollars per year.
Problem Negative Consequences of Childhood Obesity
Standardized test scores reflect that overweight and obese children score lower than children with a normal body weight.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels lead to cardiovascular disease and chronic diseases.
Type 2 diabetes and high insulin tolerance leads to lifelong changes in diet and problems with circulation.
Other problems include asthma, arthritis, liver disease, gallstones, and heartburn leading to ulcers.
Many are discriminated against, leading to poor self-esteem, social and psychological problems.
School-based interventions have proven to be effective in reducing obesity levels, especially before eating patterns are are already established.
Increasing knowledge about healthy eating behaviors and incorporating physical activity into daily life helps reduce and prevent obesity.
My proposed series of nutrition education and physical activity sessions in five low-income schools in the Springdale school district will have a target goal of decreasing obesity rates by 15% in one year.
Program of Work
Consult with the principal, physical education teacher, and key staff members
Develop materials for nutrition education sessions and physical activity sessions, including a kid-friendly PowerPoint presentation, activity board, and an interactive nutrition education game.
Develop colorful and educational banners and posters to put in lunchrooms and classrooms.
Conduct a large nutrition education session in the school auditorium where students will learn that good nutrition can be yummy and fun!
Program of Work
Conduct smaller nutrition education sessions in each classroom where children can ask questions and complete a simple test to determine how much they have learned.
Perform simple BMI calculations to determine the starting point of each child’s weight status.
Conduct physical activity sessions in each classroom to teach kids simple and fun exercises they can do every day.
Return to each school a few months later to record progress by repeating BMI calculations and administering a simple test to determine what information students retained.
Here is a great example of the type of interactive game we will have kids play on computers in the classroom:
Interactive Game for Kids
My highly qualified team consists of myself, two graduate student assistants and a physical education instructor.
The first graduate student is completing an M.S. in Community Nutrition and is conducting primary research on Childhood Obesity.
The second graduate student is completing an M.S. in Clinical and Sports Nutrition.
The physical education instructor has been an educator at the University level for 10 years. Her extensive research on Sports Nutrition and Physical Activity has targeted secondary school students.
Our team has completed a similar project in 2009 with an overall reduction in BMI of 15% after one year and an increase in test scores of 25%.