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Jornal de Pediatria

Print version ISSN 0021-7557On-line version ISSN 1678-4782


MELLO, Elza D. de; LUFT, Vivian C.  and  MEYER, Flavia. Individual outpatient care versus group education programs: which leads to greater change in dietary and physical activity habits for obese children?. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2004, vol.80, n.6, pp.468-474. ISSN 0021-7557.

OBJECTIVE: To compare two strategies for childhood obesity management: ambulatory assistance (individual) and educational program (in group). METHOD: Children and adolescents from 7 to 13 years of age were selected at random. They were divided into two groups: individually assisted or assisted in groups. An educational program about childhood obesity was created, with monthly meetings that consisted of lectures with parents' participation and group work. Simultaneously, children and teenagers of the other group received individual ambulatory assistance. The program took place for six months. Body complexion, eating habits and physical activities were assessed before and after interventions. RESULTS: The sample comprised 38 children and adolescents whose mean age was 9.9 years old. The program was more effective in increasing physical activity (P=0,003), specially walking (p = 0.003), as well as in reducing total cholesterol (p = 0.038). Reduction of body mass index, obesity index and caloric intake was similar in both groups. As for food habits, ambulatory assistance increased the intake of fruits (p = 0.033) and vegetables (p = 0.002) and reduced the amount of French fries and crisps (p = 0.041), while children participating in the program reduced the intake of soft drinks (p = 0.022), sandwiches, pizza and fast food (p = 0.006). CONCLUSIONS: Both strategies for handling childhood obesity were favorable to changes in food and physical activity habits. Group assistance was as effective as the individual assistance, consolidating as an alternative for the obesity treatment.

Keywords : Obesity; health education; food habits.

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