Obesity Treatment in Children Improves Asthma

December 1, 2012 — Project Energize, a healthy nutrition and physical activity program in the Waikato Region of New Zealand, has found a drop in asthma symptoms following an intervention to reduce excess weight. The program originally began as a trial in 2004 and later expanded to all Waikato primary schools after it proved successful for reducing excess weight in children and decreasing the risk of chronic disease. Now, a recent analysis of the data has found a drop in asthma symptoms for several demographic groups. 

Project Energize is a longitudinal, randomized, controlled study of 124 schools – grades one through six – stratified by social deprivation and how rural the schools were, and randomly assigned to intervention or control groups. Each intervention school was assigned an Energizer, a trained physical activity and nutrition expert, who worked with the school to achieve goals based on healthier eating and physical activity.

In the original study, the intervention was associated with a reduced accumulation of body fat in younger children. Recently data has been made public on the prevalence of asthma counted in Project Energize surveys from 2004 to last year. The researchers found a drop in asthma symptoms for several demographic groups, including seven-year-old girls, European New Zealanders, and students attending schools serving wealthier areas.

Further, the recent analysis also found that the percentage of seven-year-olds experiencing wheezing from Waikato schools last year was 17.7%, while the number from other regions was 22.2%.

Click here to read the summary article in The New Zealand Herald and here to read the study publication.

Schoolgirls image © Christiaan Briggs / Wikimedia Commons