Journal of Obesity and Therapeutics

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Child Obesity 2018: Developing national childhood obesity prevention program for after school care setting- Don Hyung Lee- Korea Health Promotion Institute, South Korea

Prevalence of obesity has been steadily increasing in Korea and OECD estimated that the rate of increase will be accelerated. Current childhood obesity rate in Korea is 16.5% and consistently increasing. Therefore, government needed to address this issue. The purpose of this study was to develop 12 weeks national childhood obesity program in the after school care setting. The program was consisting of nutrition education, sensory education, physical activity in the form of traditional play, and provision of fresh fruits as a snack. This program was run by Ministry of Health and Welfare, in conjunction with Ministry of Education and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The primary outcome was change in body-mass index (BMI) between baseline and 12 weeks. Other outcomes were amount of physical activity (MET-min/week) and diet behaviours (number of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products consumption per week). A total of 2357 (year 1 and 2) children from 61 primary schools nationwide participated in this study. 1354 children had BMI data at both baseline and 12 weeks for comparison. The result showed that the average BMI of children was decreased from 16.83 kg/m2 to 16.72 kg/m2 (p=.000) while the average amount of physical activity and fruit consumption were increased by 511 MET-min/week and 0.37 day, respectively (ps=.000). Therefore it was concluded that this program was suitable for prevention of childhood obesity in the after school care setting and it will be expended up to 300 primary schools (10,000 children) nation-wide in 2018. One of the main avenues that schools can use to positively affect health is also one most directly in line with every school’s mission: educating students. Nutrition and physical activity lessons can be woven into the curriculum-in core classroom subjects, physical education, and after-school programs-to teach skills that help students choose and maintain healthy lifestyles. In addition to teaching evidence-based nutrition and activity messages, school physical education should focus on getting students engaged in high-quality and regular activity. Schools can also promote health outside of the classroom, by surrounding students with opportunities to eat healthy and stay active. To improve nutrition, schools can include healthier food offerings in the cafeteria and eliminate marketing of unhealthy foods. To improve activity, schools can develop safe walking and biking routes to school, and can promote active recess time.Wellness programs for faculty and staff can also be integral to improving the school environment, not only serving to boost faculty and staff health but also building school-wide enthusiasm for student-focused programs.Additionally,schools can serve as important data sources on student health. Anonymous, school-level information onmarkers like students’ body mass index (BMI) can help educators and policy-makers assess success of current programs and decide the direction of future programs.With good evidence that school-based prevention programs can successfully-and without many added resources-help students to eat better, be more active, and achieve healthier weights, schools are poised to become an integral part of the fight against the obesity epidemic. As with education in general, the sooner we act, the better. Now that the new nutrition standards are on the books, will schools actually be able to meet them? It may be difficult to answer that question, since compliance is not strictly monitored week to week. And schools and face many other challenges to creating a food environment where the healthy choice is the default choice. Among the obstacles: budgeting for the higher costs of purchasing and preparing more healthful foods; coaxing children to accept the more healthful options; and addressing the multitude of ways that unhealthful foods and drinks are sold or served outside of school meals, from classroom birthday parties to school-wide bake sales and sporting events.

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