Improving Nutrition and Exercise Competence in Obese Schoolchildren

Improving Nutrition and Exercise Competence in Obese Schoolchildren via SALUD, a Community-Based Intervention at Southwood

In addition to affecting the health and longevity of the current generation of children, obesity has significant developmental implications for children. Obese children have been found to have a lower level of competency (i.e., expectancy of success) related to physical activity and nutrition compared to normal weight children, and these issues are exacerbated among children of lower socio-economic status (SES). These are significant problems because 32 percent of children nationally and 38 percent of children in the Charlottesville area are overweight (body mass index (BMI) 85-95 percentile) or obese (BMI greater than 95 percentile) — findings that are again more common among children in lower SES, as well as in minority ethnic groups. While it is known that the family unit has critical importance for achieving weight loss in children, it is less clear what the differential roles are of parental and child beliefs and behaviors.

It is our thesis that improvements in childhood overweight/obesity status will be best achieved by targeting the expectancies for success and value toward healthy behaviors of parents and children.

We will undergo a community-based intervention to assess competency for physical activity and nutrition among children in the Southwood Mobile Home Park in the Charlottesville area. We aim to demonstrate efficacy in improved competence and improved weight outcomes in children living in low-income communities.

Associated Cross-University Faculty
Amy Boitnott, Ph.D., Instructor of Nursing, School of Nursing
Mark DeBoer, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics