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Schools in Malaysia must do more

Modern society is faced with a global epidemic where childhood obesity is increasing rapidly. At the same time, there is a lack of rigorous development and evaluation of prevention interventions.

We discussed that obesity was on the rise across Asia in a previous blog. The quest is now on to find ways of overcoming this crisis.

Vircle is focused on preventing and tackling obesity and overweight by partnering with schools but does school intervention make an impact on the ever-increasing levels of obesity.

But does school intervention make an impact on the ever-increasing levels of obesity?

A recent study in China, the largest of its kind, clearly shows that intervention at school is a must to win the battle against obesity.

The Study

The study in question recruited 40 state-funded primary schools from urban districts of Guangzhou, China. A total of 1,641 children with parent/guardian consent took part. The study was the largest obesity school intervention programme in the world to date. The 40 schools involved were split into 20 schools in the control group and 20 schools in the intervention group.

The Intervention

The 12-month intervention programme promoted physical activity and healthy eating behaviours through educational and practical workshops, family activities, and supporting the school to improve physical activity and food provision.

Striking results

At 12 months (end of the intervention period), the percentage of obesity children was significantly lower in the intervention group. Rather than observing a rise in the level of obesity in this group, the level of obesity went down considerably.

The control group, on the other hand, was in line with the global trend of increasing levels of obesity.

The school intervention had a major impact and reversed the obesity trend. So what did the school intervention consist of.

Intake of 5 or more fruit and veg a day

Daily intake and the proportion of children consuming at least 5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables were significantly higher in the intervention than the control group. The fruits and vegetable intake would contribute to better nutrition for developing children.

Reduction in unhealthy snacks and sugar added-drinks

Weekly consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and unhealthy snacks was significantly lower in the intervention than the control group. This would suggest after the 12-month intervention program. Children from the intervention group were exhibiting the behaviour of choosing healthier options. This would support the fact is one wants a change in behaviour it must be done at a young age for it to have any capacity for retention.

More active

The proportion of children engaging in active sports, dance, or games at least once at the weekend was higher in the intervention group than the control group.

In addition, the proportion of children engaging in screen-based sedentary behaviour at the weekend was lower in the intervention group than the control group.

What was interesting was that this was an intervention that involved the school partnering with parents – with the parents playing their part in helping their children making the changes required to live healthier lives.

Vircle – a key tool for Malaysian schools

The clear conclusion of the Chinese study is that schools have a major role to play in tackling obesity. With the largest level of childhood obesity in Asia, Malaysian schools must do more to intervene.

Vircle has been designed to play a major role in helping schools and parents to come together to nurture healthier habits, through the use of the Vircle App and the related nurturing ecosystem.

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