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An intervention for improving the lifestyle habits of kindergarten children in Israel: a cluster-randomised controlled trial investigation

Lerner-Geva, Liat, Bar-Zvi, Elinor, Levitan, Gila, Boyko, Valentina, Reichman, Brian, Pinhas-Hamiel, Orit
Public health nutrition 2015 v.18 no.9 pp. 1537-1544
body mass index, children, curriculum, eating habits, energy intake, exercise, kindergarten, lifestyle, nutrition knowledge, questionnaires, Israel
To assess the effectiveness of an intervention programme to improve kindergarten children's eating and leisure habits in Israel. A cluster-randomised controlled trial. Six full-day kindergartens in Israel were randomly divided into three groups. Group A received the full intervention programme, which included lessons on good eating habits and daily physical exercise. Group B received a partial intervention of lessons only. Group C, the reference group, did not receive any intervention. Children aged 4–6 years (n 204) were recruited for the study. Objective data for weight and height were collected to calculate BMI Z-scores. Activity, sedentary time, sleeping hours and daily energy intake were assessed via a parental questionnaire. Nutritional knowledge was assessed by a single dietitian using a questionnaire addressed to the children. Assessments were done at baseline and at the end of the intervention. After adjustment for baseline levels we observed a significant reduction in daily energy intake for the full intervention group A (P = 0·03). A positive intervention effect was demonstrated on nutritional knowledge in the partial intervention group B (P = 0·03), although no significant change was demonstrated for BMI Z-score. The study supports the incorporation of education on healthy lifestyle habits and physical activity into the curricula of kindergartens.