Results of a School-Based Obesity Prevention Program Targeting Early Childhood Students

  • Tracy Bryars St. Jude Medical Center/St Joseph Health System
  • Michele Mouttapa California State University, Fullerton
  • Shari McMahan California State University, Fullerton
  • Sora Park Tanjasiri California State University, Fullerton


The purpose of this study was to determine whether early childhood students who participated in the Healthy for Life/PE4ME program experienced significant changes in their age-adjusted body mass index (BMI) percentiles, obesity-related behaviors, and identification of healthy foods and physical activities. The school-based program included nutrition education and physical activity components implemented by the teacher and program dietitian. Participants were 356 children and their parents, in17 Southern California schools with a high percentage of ethnically diverse, low income students. Parents completed a survey assessing their children’s demographics; family medical history; and obesity-related lifestyle behaviors; at pre-test and post-test. Students completed a picture scale activity to assess their ability to identify healthy versus. unhealthy foods and active vs. less active physical activities. BMI percentiles significantly decreased among children who were overweight or obese at pre-test; they also significantly decreased their junk food consumption (e.g., soda, Cheetos©). Obese children at pre-test significantly decreased their consumption of whole milk and increased their consumption of low-fat milk. Normal weight children significantly increased their consumption of milk and their physical activity. These findings provide preliminary evidence that the Healthy for Life/PE4ME program may be effective in reducing the childhood obesity trend in Orange County preschool children.
How to Cite
Bryars, T., Mouttapa, M., McMahan, S., & Tanjasiri, S. P. (2012). Results of a School-Based Obesity Prevention Program Targeting Early Childhood Students. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 10(1), 91-104.

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