Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology

First Advisor

Furong Xu


Recently, obesity in children had risen to epidemic levels. There is an urgent need to develop primary prevention strategies to prevent current and future unhealthy weight gain. Physical activity and nutrition have been linked to the increased prevalence of childhood obesity. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of a comprehensive intervention developed to help maintain BMI in overweight and obese children aged 7 to 11 years while improving physical activity levels, fitness levels, and psychosocial behavior. METHODS:Twenty obese children and their parents from South County, Rhode Island participated in a 16-week intervention that met one time each week and follow-up periods at 6-months and 12-months following the completion of the intervention. Of the 20 children, 17 completed all measures and were included in the analyses. The children and their parents were educated on healthy nutritional and physical activity behaviors, and participated in various physical activities throughout the study. Participants were assessed at baseline and follow-up on body composition, physical fitness, and psychosocial behaviors. Data was abstracted from medical records for each participant from age 5 up to the start of the intervention to analyze trends in their BMI. Accelerometers were used at baseline, mid-intervention, and post intervention to measure changes in physical activity levels. Changes in BMI were assessed by comparing each participant’s BMI trends prior to the intervention with their BMI following the completion of the program. Fitness levels were assessed using a Fitnessgram, and psychosocial behavior was assessed using a Pediatric Symptoms Checklist. RESULTS: From four years prior to the beginning of the intervention, BMI increased significantly (ß=1.12 (95% CI: 0.90-1.35); p2, p=0.034), and BMI z-score showed a statistically significant decrease (2.1 ± 0.3 vs. 1.9 ± 0.5, p=0.26). Follow-up data showed no significant changes in BMI or BMI z-score, however BMI remained stable in the participants. Fitness test data showed statistically significant improvements in the curl-up test (5.6 ± 7.3 vs. 12.2 ± 7.1, p=0.004) as well as the trunk-lift test (5.9 ± 3.1 vs. 8.1 ± 3.4, p=0.001) from pre to post. All other fitness score data showed no significant changes. Neither data from the pediatric symptoms checklist nor data from the accelerometers showed any significant changes (p>0.05). CONCLUSION: The comprehensive intervention showed significant effects on BMI and core fitness level. Prior to the intervention, trends showed an increase in BMI in the participants. After the participation in the intervention, children showed a stabilization of BMI. Children also demonstrated improvements in overall core strength following the intervention. Overall this study was successful in the primary purpose of stabilizing the BMI in overweight and obese children.