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Jornal de Pediatria
Print version ISSN 0021-7557
FERNANDES, Patrícia S.; BERNARDO, Carla de O.; CAMPOS, Rosângela M. M. B. and VASCONCELOS, Francisco de A. G. de. Evaluating the effect of nutritional education on the prevalence of overweight/obesity and on foods eaten at primary schools. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2009, vol.85, n.4, pp. 315-321. ISSN 0021-7557. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0021-75572009000400008.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of a nutritional education program on the prevalence of overweight/obesity and on the foods eaten by schoolchildren in the 2nd grade of primary education. METHODS: The sample was made up of 135 schoolchildren, recruited from one private and one public school in Florianópolis, Brazil, and allocated to either an intervention group (n = 55) or a no-intervention group (n = 80). The children underwent two anthropometric assessments and two dietary intake assessments, before and after attending a nutritional education program. The program consisted of eight fortnightly meetings and covered subjects related to healthy diets, how to make healthy snacks, and physical activity. Nutritional status was classified according to body mass index for age, using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts as reference, and the foods the children ate at school were classified according to the Santa Catarina School Canteens Act. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, and values of p < 0.05 were defined as significant. RESULTS: The percentage of overweight/obese schoolchildren increased from 21.8 to 23.6% in the intervention group and from 33.7 to 35.0% in the no-intervention group (p > 0.05). The intervention group significantly (p = 0.013) reduced its intake of artificial juice, which is prohibited by the Act. In the no-intervention group, there was a significant increase in intake of prohibited foods, such as mass-produced snacks (p = 0.021) and soda (p = 0.031). Furthermore, the intake of breakfast cereal, which is appropriate for eating at school, decreased (p = 0.039). CONCLUSION: Despite its short duration, after attending the nutritional education program, there were improvements in the quality of the food the schoolchildren were eating.
Keywords : Dietary and nutritional education; nutritional assessment; dietary habits; anthropometry; overweight; obesity.