A Community-based Intervention Increases Physical Activity and Reduces Obesity in School-age Children in North Carolina
Benjamin Neelon, S. E., Namenek Brouwer, R. J., Østbye, T., Evenson, K. R., Neelon, B., Martinie, A., & Bennett, G. G. (2015). A Community-based Intervention Increases Physical Activity and Reduces Obesity in School-age Children in North Carolina. Childhood Obesity, 11(3), 297-303.
BACKGROUND: Community-based interventions are promising approaches to obesity prevention, but few studies have prospectively evaluated them. The aim of this study was to evaluate a natural experiment-a community intervention designed to promote active living and decrease obesity within a small southern town. METHODS: In 2011, community leaders implemented the Mebane on the Move intervention-a community-wide effort to promote physical activity (PA) and decrease obesity among residents of Mebane, North Carolina. We measured child PA and BMI before and after the intervention, using a nearby town not implementing an intervention as the comparison. In total, we assessed 64 children from Mebane and 40 from the comparison community 6 months before, as well as 34 and 18 children 6 months after the intervention. We assessed PA with accelerometers worn for 7 days and calculated BMI z-scores using children's height and weight. We conducted multivariable linear regressions examining pre- to post-intervention change in minutes of PA and BMI z-score, adjusting for confounders. RESULTS: At follow-up, children in Mebane modestly increased their moderate-to-vigorous PA (1.3 minutes per hour; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.2, 2.3; p=0.03) and vigorous activity (0.8 minutes per hour; 95% CI: 0.1, 1.5; p=0.04) more than comparison children. In intervention children, BMI z-scores decreased 0.5 units (kg/m(2); 95% CI: -0.9, -0.02; p=0.045), compared to children in the comparison community. CONCLUSIONS: We observed positive effects on PA level and weight status of children in Mebane, despite high rates of attrition, suggesting that the community-based intervention may have been successful.