The SwitchTM programme, 'Switch what you Do, View, and Chew', has been shown to be capable of promoting children's fruit and vegetable consumption and lowering 'screen time'. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Medicine tested the programme and report that it offers promise for use in youth obesity prevention.
Douglas Gentile, a psychology professor from Iowa State University, USA, worked with a team of researchers to evaluate the intervention in a group of 1,323 children and their parents from 10 schools. He said, "Reversing the pediatric obesity epidemic has been established as a critical priority. We tested Switch, a family-, school-, and community-based intervention aimed at changing the key behaviors of physical activity, television viewing/screen time, and nutrition".
The Switch programme features three components, Community, School and Family. The Community component is designed to promote awareness of the importance of healthy lifestyles using paid advertising (such as billboards) and unpaid media (such as letters to the editors of print publications). The School component reinforces the Switch messages by providing teachers with materials and methods to integrate key health concepts into the school day. Finally in the Family component, participating families receive monthly packets containing behavioral tools to assist families in altering their health behaviors.
Gentile said, "Family components are critical for youth obesity prevention programs because parents directly and indirectly influence children's activity and nutrition behaviors. Parents also influence the physical and social environments that are available to their children. The School and Community components are essential to integrate the programme into the places where families live, work and play".
The intervention yielded encouraging results, with the experimental group showing significant differences from the control group in both screen time and fruit and vegetable consumption. According to Gentile, "Although modest, these results are not trivial. The effects remained significant at the 6-month follow-up evaluation, indicating maintenance of these differences over time. Such maintenance may contribute to reduced weight risks in the future".
Notes to Editors
1. Evaluation of a multiple ecological level child obesity prevention program: Switch what you Do, View, and Chew
Douglas A Gentile, Gregory Welk, Joey C Eisenmann, Rachel A Reimer, David A Walsh, Daniel W Russell, Randi Callahan, Monica Walsh, Sarah Strickland and Katie Fritz
BMC Medicine 2009, 7:49 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-7-49
Article available at the journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/7/49/abstract
Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.
2. BMC Medicine - the flagship medical journal of the BMC series - publishes original research articles, commentaries and reviews in all areas of medical science and clinical practice. To be appropriate for BMC Medicine, articles need to be of outstanding quality, broad interest and special importance. BMC Medicine (ISSN 1741-7015) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, Current Contents, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.
3. Switch is a programme of the National Institute on Media and the Family, a non-profit organisation based in Minneapolis, MN, USA.
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