Objectives: To determine whether a school obesity prevention project developed in the United States can be adapted for use in England.
Methods: A pilot cluster randomised controlled trial and interviews with teachers were carried out in 19 primary schools in South West England. Participants included 679 children in year 5 (age 9–10). Baseline and follow-up assessments were completed for 323 children (screen viewing) and 472 children (body mass index). Sixteen lessons on healthy eating, physical activity and reducing TV viewing were taught over 5 months by teachers. Main outcome measures were hours of screen activities, body mass index, mode of transport to school and teachers’ views of the intervention.
Results: Children from intervention schools spent less time on screen-viewing activities after the intervention but these differences were imprecisely estimated: mean difference in minutes spent on screen viewing at the end of the intervention (intervention schools minus control schools) adjusted for baseline levels and clustering within schools was −11.6 (95% CI −42.7 to 19.4) for a week day and was −15.4 (95% CI −57.5 to 26.8) for a Saturday. There was no difference in mean body mass index or the odds of obesity.
Conclusions: It is feasible to transfer this US school-based intervention to UK schools, and it may be effective in reducing the time children spend on screen-based activities. The study has provided information for a full-scale trial, which would require 50 schools (∼1250 pupils) to detect effects on screen viewing and body mass index over 2 years of follow-up.
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Funding: Funding was received from the Department of Health via the South West Public Health Group, South Gloucestershire Council, and DAL is funded by a Department of Health Career Scientist Award, which also funded data entry.
Competing interests: None.