Downward trends in the prevalence of childhood overweight in two pilot towns taking part in the VIASANO community-based programme in Belgium: data from a national school health monitoring system

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Abstract

Background:

Multilevel approaches involving environmental strategies are considered to be good practice to help reduce the prevalence of childhood overweight.

Objectives:

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of VIASANO, a community-based programme using the EPODE methodology, on the prevalence of overweight in two pilot towns in Belgium.

Methods:

We analysed data from a national school health monitoring system to compare changes in the prevalence of overweight and obesity over a 3-year period (2007–2010) in children aged 3–4 and 5–6 years in the pilot towns with those of children of the same ages from the whole French-speaking community of Belgium. Heights and weights of all participants were measured by trained school nurses using a standardized method.

Results:

The prevalence of overweight (−2.1%) and overweight + obesity (−2.4%) decreased in the pilot towns, but remained stable in the comparison population (+0.1% and +0.2%, respectively). After adjustment for lack of homogeneity between the study populations, there was a trend towards a decrease in overweight (P = 0.054) and overweight + obesity (P = 0.058) in the pilot towns compared with the general population.

Conclusions:

These results suggest that a community-based programme, such as VIASANO, may be a promising strategy for reducing the prevalence of childhood overweight even over a short period of time.

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