On SAGE Insight: Tackling the childhood obesity problem with the EatSmart School Accreditation Scheme

Article title: School accreditation scheme reduces childhood obesity in Hong Kong

From Global Health Promotion

Childhood obesity is an increasing threat to the health of primary school students in Hong Kong. The EatSmart School Accreditation Scheme (ESAS) aiming at combating childhood obesity was launched in 2009/2010. Professional (health promotion, dietary, programme, etc.) support is provided to help schools formulate policies, introduce structures and implement measures to help students develop the habit of healthy eating. Annually height and weight measurements are recorded for monitoring obesity patterns

For this study, seven-year retrospective data on obesity status were obtained from Student Health Services (SHS) for the period 2007/2008–2013/2014. SHS covered a very high proportion (around 80% on average) of the population (more than 330,000 primary school students per year on average) under this study, making its database highly representative of the local childhood population.

Under the ESAS program obesity decreased after the intervention more significantly than students from non-ESAS-accredited schools. This paper suggests schools should play a more active role in creating a nutritionally sound and friendly environment for students. It concludes that the ESAS program is a promising intervention that should be implemented and institutionalized more widely across local schools to control the childhood obesity problem.

Abstract

Childhood obesity is an increasing threat to the health of primary school students in Hong Kong. Obesity results from energy excess from food relative to energy expenditure through physical activity. In Hong Kong, a whole day primary schooling policy has been implemented since 1993 and today most primary school students have their lunch on campus and some also purchase snacks and drinks from school tuck shops or vending machines. The EatSmart School Accreditation Scheme (ESAS) aiming at combating childhood obesity was launched in 2009/2010. Professional (health promotion, dietary, programme, etc.) support is provided to help schools formulate policies, introduce structures and implement measures to help students develop the habit of healthy eating. The aim of this study is to investigate the change of childhood obesity (including overweight) rates over time among schools awarded with ESAS accreditation. Seven-year retrospective data on obesity status were obtained for the period 2007/2008–2013/2014 (number of students = 113,322, number of measurements = 314,746) from all 105 ESAS-accredited schools. Before schools were geared up for the accreditation scheme obesity rates were fairly stable (slope test p > 0.05) among their student population ranging from 23.2% to 21.9%, whereas the rates dropped significantly (slope test p < 0.05) from 21.9% to 19.3% after intervention. For ESAS-accredited schools, there was an average annual reduction of 0.49% point in obesity rate which was 0.18% point higher than that of 0.31% point among non-ESAS-accredited schools. These results show that schools achieving ESAS accreditation are associated with a bigger improvement in the student obesity problem.

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Article details
School accreditation scheme reduces childhood obesity in Hong Kong
Yuk Ching Alex Fu, Kit Ching To, Wing Yan Tao, Kai Ming Andrew Kwan, Yuen Ho Lee, Yu Kei Anne Fung, Cheuk Tuen Regina Ching, Wai Hung Thomas Chung
First Published May 29, 2018
DOI: 10.1177/1757975918764318
From Global Health Promotion

 

     
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