Pediatric Obesity in Texas

Does the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy Affect Child Nutrition?


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Abstract of Journal Article - October 2006

The Pediatric Obesity Prevention Study  

Pediatric Obesity Prevention Study Working Members: John F. Pohl, MD; Julie O'Rear, BSN; M. Hasan Rajab, PhD; Matthew Watts, MPH;  Hyun Sun Kim, PhD; Tracy Booth, MS-Ed; Dean Kjar, MS; and Don Wilson, MD, The Children's Hospital at Scott and White, Department of Pediatrics, Scott and White Memorial Hospital, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Temple, Tex; Jenna Anding, PhD, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Extension Food and Nutrition, Texas Cooperative Extension, College Station, Tex; William Wong, PhD, and Nancy Butte, PhD, USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Tex; Rick Grimes, EdD, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Belton, Tex; James W. Varni, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, College Station, Tex; Norma Olvera, PhD, and Jill Bush, PhD, Department of Health and Human Performance, University of Houston, Houston, Tex; Tasha Burwinkle, PhD, Department of Anesthesia, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash; and William Klish, MD, Texas Children's Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Tex.  

A significant increase in the incidence of pediatric obesity has been reported in Texas. This study evaluated how effectively the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy promoted the understanding of proper nutrition by fourth-grade schoolchildren and their parents in three school districts in Bell County and Harris County. Fourth-grade schoolchildren were surveyed at two times (T1, T2) during the spring semester of the 2004-2005 school year to assess their dietary intake, their health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and their understanding and satisfaction with the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy. Participating students' parents also were surveyed. The overall obesity rate in surveyed children averaged 26.1%. No significant difference was found between HRQOL scores for obese and normal-weight children, although HRQOL scores for normal-weight children were significantly lower than those in previous population studies of healthy children. In addition, the HRQOL scores of obese and healthy children increased significantly from T1 to T2 for Bell County but only for healthy children in Harris County. Children from Bell County were more likely to eat food from the cafeteria while children from Harris County were more likely to eat food brought from home. Parents of minority children reported that they were more likely to change dietary habits at home as a result of the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy. Obese children were less likely than normal-weight children to try to lose weight. This study suggests that lunch intake varies considerably in Texas, and state policy should try to institute more uniform nutrition guidelines for all school districts. Because minority children are at increased risk of obesity, the preliminary findings that their parents are more likely to change their dietary habits at home are very encouraging. 

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