Educative strategies need to be adopted to encourage the consumption of healthy foods and to promote physical activity in childhood and adolescence. The effects of recreational physical activity and a health-habit orientation program using an illustrated diary on the cardiovascular risk profile of overweight and obese children was investigated.
The weight and height of 314 schoolchildren aged between 9 and 11 years old, in a public school in Brasilia, Federal District, Brazil, were recorded. According to the body mass index (BMI) classification proposed by the World Health Organization, 84 were overweight or obese for their age and sex. Of these children, 34 (40%) participated in the study. Students were divided into two groups matched for sex, age, BMI, percent body fat (%BF): the intervention group (IG, n = 17) and the control group (CG, n = 17). The IG underwent a program of 10 weeks of exercise with recreational activities and health-habit orientation using an illustrated diary of habits, while no such interventions were used with the CG during the study period. Before and after the intervention, the children’s weight, height, BMI, %BF, waist circumference (WC), maximum oxygen intake (VO2max), total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein (HDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL), triglycerides, glucose, eating habits, and physical activity level (PAL) were assessed. In analyzing the data, we used descriptive statistics and paired and unpaired t-tests, using a significance level of 0.05. For assessment of dietary habits, a questionnaire, contingency tables, and the chi-squared test were used, with <0.05 set as the significance level.
After 10 weeks of intervention, the IG showed a reduction in BMI (pre: 22.2 ± 2.1 kg/m2 versus [vs] post: 21.6 ± 2.1 kg/m2, P < 0.01); WC (pre: 70.1 ± 6.1 cm vs post: 69.1 ± 5.8 cm, P < 0.01); %BF (pre: 29.2% ± 4.6% vs post: 28.0% ± 4.8%, P < 0.01); systolic blood pressure (P < 0.01); VO2max (P = 0.014); TC (P < 0.01); LDL (P < 0.01); triglycerides (P < 0.01); and intake of candy (P < 0.01) and soda drinks (P < 0.01), while an increase in the consumption of fruit (P < 0.01) and PAL (P < 0.01) were observed. The CG did not show any change in the health parameters assessed.
The program was effective in reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease and the use of an illustrative diary may have been the key to this result, since students were motivated to change their poor eating habits and to increase their physical activity level.