A School-Based Health Education Program Can Improve Cholesterol Values for Middle School Students
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This prospective study aimed to measure the impact of a school-based multidisciplinary education program on risk factors for atherosclerosis in sixth-grade students.
A prospective study was performed in which patients served as their own controls. Healthy sixth-grade students from three middle schools in a city of approximately 100,000 were exposed to an educational program promoting healthful habits through behavioral and environmental change. Risk factors including body mass index (BMI), systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP), cholesterol panel, and random blood glucose were measured before program initiation, then 5 months afterward.
Of 711 sixth-graders at three middle schools, 287 (47% boys; mean age, 11.5 ± 0.37 years) consented to participate in the study. The mean total cholesterol value decreased from 169 ± 26 to 154 ± 26 mg/dl (p < 0.0001). The low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol value decreased from 86 ± 25 to 84 ± 23 mg/dl (p = 0.01), and the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol value decreased from 56 ± 13 to 50 ± 13 mg/dl (p < 0.0001). The random glucose value decreased from 96 ± 13 to 93 ± 15 mm/dl (p = 0.01). The mean SBP did not change, showing 109 ± 12.5 mmHg before the program and 108 ± 11.5 mmHg afterward. The DBP decreased from 63.6 ± 8.6 to 62.3 ± 7.8 mmHg (p = 0.01).
The Project Healthy Schools program is feasible and appears to be effective. The results showed significant improvement in risk factors for early atherosclerosis among sixth-grade students including total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, random glucose levels, and diastolic blood pressure. Further study with a larger group and a longer follow-up period would be valuable.
KeywordsTherosclerosis Cholesterol Low-density lipoprotein High-density lipoprotein Random glucose levels
The authors thank the Ann Arbor School Board for their cooperation and participation in this research. The authors also acknowledge the support of the Ann Arbor Community Foundation, the Southeast Michigan Community Foundation, and the Borders Group for their support. Finally, the authors acknowledge Theresa Han-Markey, MS, RD, and Anita Sandretto, PhD, for their role in the development of Project Healthy Schools, as well as Bruce Rogers for database support.
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