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Assessment of Fun to Be Fit: A School-based Approach to Childhood Obesity

Wilds, Christina Louise (2006) Assessment of Fun to Be Fit: A School-based Approach to Childhood Obesity. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Childhood obesity is the most prevalent nutritional disease of children and adolescents, affecting approximately 24% of the United States population ages 2-17. Childhood obesity is of public health significance because of increasing prevalence, costly consequences on disability and mortality, and the potential to promote health disparities. The Fun to Be Fit curriculum was piloted in nine Pittsburgh Public School System elementary schools during the 2001-2002 academic year. The curriculum incorporates two evidence-based programs: FRESH (Food Re-Education for Elementary School Health) and SPARK (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids). The curriculum included 10 minutes of nutrition education and 40 minutes of physical fitness activities, offered twice a week. A total of 576 third and fourth grade children from five treatment schools (n=332) and four control schools (n=244) participated. Treatment school teachers received training in SPARK and FRESH, fitness assessments, and coaching strategies. The nutrition component was evaluated with a 20 item nutrition knowledge survey and a 51 item food frequency questionnaire. Fitness was assessed through curl-ups and push-ups completed in 30 seconds, and a half mile run/walk test. Both treatment and control schools completed the nutrition surveys and fitness assessments at the beginning and end of the school year. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the Fun to Be Fit curriculum was more effective than the existing physical education curriculum offered in the control schools in improving nutrition and fitness behaviors. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) examined between-group differences at post-test in nutrition and physical activity scores, statistically controlling for gender, grade level, and variation in pre-test scores. Results showed a greater increase in nutrition knowledge among Fun to Be Fit students (p=.002), and greater reductions in the consumption of high fat (p=.001), high sodium (p < .001), and high sugar (p < .001) foods as compared to the control students. Physical activity outcomes were mixed, with Fun to Be Fit students showing greater increases in push-ups (p <.001) but significantly fewer curl-ups (p= .033) as compared to the control students. There were no significant differences (p > .05) for the half mile run/walk assessment. The Fun to Be Fit program appears to be an effective strategy for improving nutrition knowledge in elementary school students and to some degree for increasing physical activity.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Wilds, Christina
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairThomas, Stephen
Committee MemberLin, Chyongchiou Jengcjlin@pitt.eduCJLIN
Committee MemberMusa, Donalddmuc@pitt.eduDMUC
Committee MemberJakicic, Johnjjakicic@pitt.eduJJAKICIC
Committee MemberSharma, Ravirks1946@pitt.eduRKS1946
Date: 7 August 2006
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 1 June 2006
Approval Date: 7 August 2006
Submission Date: 12 June 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: DrPH - Doctor of Public Health
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: fitness activities; food frequency; nutrition knowledge; childhood obesity; school-based interventions
Other ID:, etd-06122006-231055
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:47
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:44


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