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J Sch Health. 2010 May;80(5):233-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2010.00495.x.

Obesity prevention opinions of school stakeholders: a qualitative study.

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1
Research Group on Adolescent Health, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Lausanne, 17, Rue du Bugnon, CH 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland. sophie.bucher@hesge.ch

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In general, schools are an important setting to implement current recommendations for obesity prevention in children because the vast majority of children attend school. This study investigated the opinions of different school stakeholders on the feasibility and acceptability of current obesity prevention strategies that could be implemented in Swiss schools.

METHODS:

Research methods were comprised of a qualitative study which included school directors, physical education teachers, catering staff, school nurses and health educators, parents of young adolescents, and young adolescents interviewed (N = 40) categorized into 6 focus groups. Open-ended questions were used to determine the participants' opinion regarding current obesity prevention recommendations, and healthy eating and physical activity promotion strategies.

RESULTS:

All participants approved the implementation of nutritional standards for food and drinks sold in schools, but thought that increasing the attractiveness of healthy options was the best strategy to improve eating habits. Enjoying participation in physical activity classes or after-school activities was stressed. Participants suggested offering classes for all students with poor physical condition, independent of weight status. Stakeholders called for governmental support and global coordination of interventions balanced with providing schools with enough autonomy to adapt programs relevant to their individual circumstances. They recommended integrating all school stakeholders in obesity prevention initiatives, with special attention to students and local authorities.

CONCLUSIONS:

Participants agreed that schools are a crucial setting to implement childhood obesity prevention strategies. They called on school stakeholders to join efforts aiming to encourage healthy behaviors and to support and reinforce parents' efforts by spreading consistent and coherent health messages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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