Monitoring BMI Trends in a Midwest Regional Head Start Population: The Results of a Healthy Lifestyle Intervention

Antonela Miccoli, Loren L. Toussaint, Carina K. Hansen, Latasha M. Smith, Brian A. Lynch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Childhood obesity represents a public health crisis in the United States. Thus, focusing on early childhood is crucial to modify the consequences associated with obesity. The Food and Fitness Initiative (FFI) is a community-based wellness program implemented in Northeast Iowa since 2009. FFI focuses on healthy eating and physical activity. Our aim is to describe the impact on body mass index (BMI) after implementing FFI in a Northeast Iowa Community Action Head Start (HS) population. Methods: Retrospective BMI data was collected from all children attending 14 HS sites from 2012 to 2018. Children with BMI measurements during July to December of the first year in HS were included in the study. Follow-up data the second year in HS was obtained. Overweight and obesity prevalence, as well as, BMI changes between year 1 and 2 in HS were analyzed. Results: Data from 1013 children were collected, 850 (84%) had qualifying BMI measurements during their first year in HS and 352 of those children (41%) had follow-up data in their second year. There was a decrease in BMI between years 1 and 2 in HS that approached statistical significance (t = 1.83, P =.07, d =.10). There were no statistically significant changes in the percent of overweight (Wald χ2 =.50, P =.48) or obese (Wald χ2 = 1.71, P =.19) children between the first and second year. Conclusion: The FFI wellness program can be feasibly integrated into the HS curriculum and shows promising short-term results in improving BMI, but not to a statistically significant level when evaluated over 1 year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
StatePublished - 2020


  • children
  • community interventions
  • early childhood
  • head start
  • obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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