School Nurses Could Be Helpful In Preventing Childhood Obesity, Study Shows 

In Education

A recent study from Rutgers University suggests that school nurses play a crucial role beyond basic care, potentially addressing childhood obesity. The study highlights a family-centered, school-based approach led by school nurses, involving teachers and parents as role models to encourage healthy eating behaviors and habits.

School nurses instrumental in encouraging healthy eating

A school nurse from Newark, New Jersey, Elaine Elliott, collaborated with Rutgers University School of Nursing’s Professor Cheryl Holly and the late Sallie Porter to carry out and assess an intervention program. Elliott highlighted the significance of trust among school nurses, teachers, and parents in the program’s success.

Elliot said that a significant factor contributing to the success of this initiative was the strong rapport that exists between nurses, parents, and educators.  She explained that through her role as a school nurse, she has cultivated a profound connection with the community that is unique to the nursing profession.

The study was conducted in Newark involving parents, teachers, and aides from a public preschool to address childhood obesity. The program consisted of four weeks of 45-minute weekly sessions, with 37 participants representing children aged three to five taking part.

Derived from Maine’s Let’s Go! Initiative, this intervention aimed to educate parents and teachers on fostering healthy habits in children. This included promoting five vegetable servings, minimizing screen time, avoiding sugary beverages, and ensuring an hour of physical activity. In the second week, participants were to apply these teachings at home and school, with the school nurse, Elliott, offering continuous in-person and online assistance.

Vegetable intake increased under new program

In the study, positive outcomes were observed using pre and post-survey data. Children notably increased their daily fruit and vegetable intake from one serving to five servings. Family meal-sharing frequency also rose from two to five days per week. Consumption of takeout food decreased by an average of two days per week, and screen time decreased from over three-and-a-half hours to one-and-a-half hours daily.

The study achieved better results than prior Let’s Go! program studies due to the involvement of a school nurse who led the intervention and provided assistance.

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