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School-Based Intervention as a Component of a Comprehensive Community Program for Overweight and Obesity Prevention, Sousse, Tunisia, 2009–2014
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    Prev Chronic Dis
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    Introduction Combating obesity at an early age, by improving physical activity and nutrition-related behaviors, is vital to the prevention of more critical health concerns in adulthood. This intervention study evaluated the effectiveness of a school-based component of a community behavioral intervention on overweight and obesity rates of adolescents in Sousse, Tunisia. Methods A quasi-experimental school-based intervention was conducted with an intervention group (in Sousse Jawhara and Sousse Riadh) and a control group (in Sousse Msaken). The intervention (which was a physical activity and nutrition program) lasted 3 years, with data at preintervention collected during the 2009–2010 school year and at postintervention collected during the 2013–2014 school year. Descriptive statistics and multivariate analysis were used to determine the effect of the intervention on risk of excess weight. Results Results showed a significant increase in fruit and vegetable intake by the intervention group (P = .04). The intervention group had an increase in students in the normal weight category (P = .03) and a decrease in students in the overweight category (P = .03).The intervention effect was a protective factor against excess weight for the participating schoolchildren (OR, 0.84; P = .02). Conclusion This study showed that a school-based intervention is successful in increasing healthy dietary habits and in reducing risk of excess weight. It also showed the importance of a multisectoral approach to provide an environment conducive to healthy behaviors for adolescents.
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