Background Obesity and sedentary lifestyle has increased in the last years. In Mexico, The Ministry of Education included information for children about physical activity and nutrition in elementary schools, in another hand, The Health Ministry suggest the program ‘5 steps for health’ (5SH), which is based in theory to change habits.
Aim Investigate the change to healthy habits in children 10 to 12 years old comparing traditional education Vs ‘5SH’
Methods Children were randomly assigned to traditional education group (n = 101, 1 session/week) or 5SH group (n = 134, 2 sessions/week) and followed for 6 months; and six months later were interviewed to verify the change of habits. At the beginning and the end of study physical activity was recorder by survey, weight and height were measured and classified as normal, overweight or obese according Body Mass Index (BMI).
Results At beginning of study both groups were similar, and one year of follow-up we found more overweight and obese in the children with traditional education vs 5SH 34.7% and 5.9% vs 17.2% and 3.0%, respectively (X2 = 11.2; p = 0.003). Physical activity increased in 5SH group from 124 ± 124 min/week to 232 ± 113 min/week; (p < 0.001) than traditional group from 131 ± 128 min/week to 177 ± 130 min/week;(p > 0.05).
Conclusions The program ‘5 steps for health’ focused in change of habits is more effective than traditional education to increase physical activity and prevent obesity.