Background

In response to the current childhood obesity epidemic, Fit for Life (FFL) is an organization that employs a diet- and exercise-focused early intervention program to educate elementary school students about nutrition, physical activity, and healthy sleep and screen time habits, as well as empower them to be active in making positive lifestyle choices.

Methods

The program ran from February to March of 2019. The participants were 4th and 5th grade students at three elementary schools in the Omaha area. The students took surveys and quizzes before and after the 4-week program to evaluate their improvement. Pre- and post-program height and weight measurements were taken. Calculated BMI values, as well as graded pre- and post-program quizzes, were statistically analyzed via paired t-tests. Self-reported survey responses were reviewed for behavior modifications.

Results

There was no significant difference in BMI over the course of the program (p=0.7943, n=72). However, the quiz scores significantly improved (p<0.001, n=76).Voluntary self-reported survey results revealed the following: 41% reported a decrease in individual and/or household screen time, 36% reported an increase in daily fruit/vegetable intake, 27% reported a reduction in consumption of sweets.

Conclusions

The significant improvement in quiz scores demonstrates that the students benefited from the educational component of the FFL program. Self-reported survey responses showed that students felt more comfortable making healthy lifestyle choices at the end of the program, suggesting that early intervention encourages behavior modifications consistent with good nutrition and adequate physical activity. No significant change in BMI may be attributed to the short length of the program providing an insufficient amount of time to achieve a clinically relevant improvement after implementation of new behaviors. Future goals include longitudinal analysis to evaluate FFL’s long-term impact on the students.