Midway evaluation - Hilde Mjell Donkor
Prevention of persistent overweight in children
The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing to epidemic proportions among children and adults, also in Norway. Overweight in childhood is a major risk for overweight in adulthood. This development is a threat to public health since obesity is a paramount risk factor for diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and mental diseases. Established overweight is difficult to reverse, therefore prophylaxis an intervention in the early stages of overweight seem to be the promising avenues towards preventing lasting overweight. Our aim was to examine the effect of a family oriented intervention program on prevention of persistent overweight in young children at risk, and also examine growth trajectories and associations to different social factors.
The Oppland health and growth study is a cohort study of children born in Oppland County in 2001. At 5-6 years, the parents answered an extensive questionnaire on somatic health, social factors, behaviour (e.g. nutrition, physical activity) and psychological health (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, SDQ). We also obtained weight and height from the public health stations from birth until 8 years old, and pregnancy data from the Oppland Birth Register. Questionnaires were obtained for 1119 (62 %) children.
Children living in the municipalities close to Gjøvik and Lillehammer who had a weight ≥ 1 kg above the 97.5 percentile for height according to the Norwegian growth charts, which is equivalent to a body mass index (BMI) >30 for adults, were invited to participate in the intervention program. The intervention was a 3-year structured program which included both group and individually based parental guidance by nurses, paediatricians, nutritionists, psychologists and physiotherapists. Similarly overweight children from the rest of the county, who received no guidance or information about the program, served as controls. Of 50 invited families, 48 were followed through 3 years; 26 of them adhered to the program as scheduled. In article 1, we will review the results of the intervention after 3 and 5 years, and the main outcome is BMI standard deviation score.
The second article will address BMI trajectories in school aged children based on early growth, somatic and mental health, and social factors. The third article is planned to look at mental health and overweight in young children, based on the SDQ-questionnaires.