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Prev Med. 1996 Jul-Aug;25(4):442-54.

The effects of the Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health upon psychosocial determinants of diet and physical activity behavior.

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University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, 78712, USA.



The Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health is a multisite study of a school-based intervention to reduce or prevent the development of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The purpose of this paper is to present the evaluation results of the 3-year intervention, focusing upon the psychosocial variables conceptualized as determinants of dietary and physical activity behaviors.


A total of 96 schools across four study sites (California, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas) were randomized to two treatment conditions: intervention and control. Pre- and postmeasurements on the health behavior questionnaire were collected from over 6,000 students. The data analyses utilized a nested design approach in which schools served as the primary unit of analysis. Repeated-measures multivariate analyses were applied to investigate effect sizes for each determinant and to explore theoretical relationships among the determinants over time.


The findings indicated sustained significant effects in improved knowledge, intentions, self-efficacy, usual behavior, and perceived social reinforcement for healthy food choices (P < 0.0001 for these five variables) after 3 years. Intermittent effects were observed for perceived support and self-efficacy for physical activity. No gender by determinant interaction effects were observed, and girls reported significantly greater perceived reinforcement for healthy eating than did boys.


The CATCH program was effective in changing the psychosocial variables likely to influence a reduction in behavior for cardiovascular disease. The study is significant in that it demonstrates the viability and effectiveness of a sustained multifaceted intervention in a preadolescent population. The results point to a need for greater understanding of adolescent developmental issues and the role of community environment (particularly social support) in creating effective curricula.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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