The Be A Fit Kid Program: Improving Dietary and Physical Activity Habits in Children

Slawta, Jennifer N.1; Nalle, Darek J.2; Bentley, Jeffery L.1; Smith, Joan1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2004 - Volume 36 - Issue 5 - p S101–S102
Annual Meeting Abstracts: C-20 - Free Communication/Slide: Musculoskeletal Mechanics

1Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR.

2University of Nevada, Reno, NV.


(Sponsor: Anthony R. Wilcox, FACSM)


Physical inactivity, poor eating habits, and overweight are primary risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) and type 2 diabetes. CHD and type 2 diabetes are considered to be major pediatric problems in that poor eating habits and physical inactivity are generally acquired during childhood. PURPOSE: To improve fitness, dietary habits, body composition, and blood cholesterol levels in elementary school children following 3 months of nutrition and exercise intervention, and to determine the extent by which positive changes in dietary and physical activity habits were maintained 6 months following the completion of the intervention. METHODS: The Vol. 36 No. 5 Supplement study sample consisted of 51 children, aged 6 to 11 years. The program met three times each week for 2 h for 3 months at each school. Height and weight were measured for calculation of body mass index (BMI), skinfolds were measured for estimation of body fat, blood was collected for measurement of lipid and lipoprotein levels, dietary habits were analyzed from 1-day food records, nutrition knowledge was assessed by a simple nutrition test, and a battery of fitness tests were administered. RESULTS: Significant improvements were observed in the timed mile run (p = 0.000), sit-ups (p = 0.000), chin-ups (p = 0.000), and flexed arm hang (p = 0.000); saturated fat intake (p = 0.000), sodium intake (p = 0.000), and nutrition knowledge (0.000); BMI (p = 0.002) and body fat (p = 0.000); and total cholesterol levels (p = 0.03). Improvements in dietary and physical activity habits were maintained by over 75% of children 6 months following the intervention. CONCLUSION: The significant improvements in fitness, nutritional habits and knowledge, body composition, and total cholesterol levels following the Be a Fit Kid intervention suggest that health education and health promotion programs aimed at children may favorably alter overweight and the development of adult lifestyle-related diseases. Supported by Asante Health System and Rogue Valley Medical Center

©2004The American College of Sports Medicine