QCOR: School Intervention Programs Instill Healthy Habits

Heart-healthy lifestyles taught in schools improve health and behavior choices of children

MONDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-school students educated about heart-healthy lifestyles through school intervention programs make better health and behavior choices, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke 2011 Scientific Sessions, held from May 12 to 14 in Washington, D.C.

Nicole L. Corriveau, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues evaluated whether a middle school-based intervention program, Project Healthy Schools (PHS), could decrease future cardiovascular disease and diabetes risks in children. A total of 593 students educated through this program about heart-healthy lifestyles were followed up for four years. Data on body mass index, lipid levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and self-evaluation of healthy eating, exercise habits, and other lifestyle behaviors, were collected at baseline and each consecutive year, and were compared over time.

The investigators found that there was a significant improvement in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and resting heart rates in the follow-up data. Students continued to make health-conscious decisions by eating more fruits and vegetables, participating in more physical activities, and spending less time in front of the television or computer four years after the intervention.

"Four years after the initial intervention, PHS students continued to show improvement in the goal areas evaluated. By improving overall cholesterol and LDLs, choosing to eat healthier food, and participating in more physical activities, these children are effectively decreasing their risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes," the authors write.

Two of the study authors disclosed financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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