Scherr RE; Linnell JD; Dharmar M; Beccarelli LM; Bergman JJ; Briggs M; Brian KM; Feenstra G; Hillhouse JC; Keen CL; Ontai LL; Schaefer SE; Smith MH; Spezzano T; Steinberg FM; Sutter C; Young HM; Zidenberg-Cherr S
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness of the Shaping Healthy Choices Program (SHCP). DESIGN: A clustered, randomized, controlled intervention lasting 1 school year. SETTING: Schools in northern and central California. PARTICIPANTS: Fourth-graders (aged 9-10 years) at 2 control schools (n = 179) and 2 intervention schools (n = 230). INTERVENTION: Garden-enhanced education, family, and community partnerships; increased regionally procured produce in the lunchroom; and school-site wellness committees. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Changes in body mass index (BMI) percentiles/Z-scores; nutrition knowledge, science process skills, and vegetable identification and preferences; and reported fruit and vegetable intake. ANALYSIS: Student t test, chi-square, ANOVA of change, and multilevel regression mixed model to evaluate change in outcomes with school as a random effect to account for cluster design effects. Statistical significance was set at P < .05. RESULTS: There was a greater improvement in BMI percentile (-6.08; P < 0.01), BMI Z-score (-0.28; P < .001), and waist-to-height ratio (-0.02; P < .001) in the intervention compared with the control schools. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The SHCP resulted in improvements in nutrition knowledge, vegetable identification, and a significant decrease in BMI percentiles. This supports the concept that the SHCP can be used to improve the health of upper elementary school students.