J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech.2009.102319
  • Research report

Assessment of a school-based intervention in eating habits and physical activity in school children: the AVall study

Open Access
  1. Conxa Castells5
  1. 1Internal Medicine Department, Granollers General Hospital, Granollers, Spain
  2. 2Public Health Department, Granollers City Council, Barcelona, Spain
  3. 3Primary Health Subdivision (PCS) Granollers–Mollet, Catalan Institute of Health, Spain
  4. 4Primary Healthcare Research Support Unit Metropolitana Nord. IDIAP Jordi Gol. Catalan Institute of Health, Sabadell, Spain
  5. 5Health Department, Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Esteve Llargués, Internal Medicine Department, Granollers General Hospital, Av Francesc Ribes s/n, 08402 Granollers, Spain; ellargues{at}
  • Accepted 9 February 2011
  • Published Online First 12 March 2011


Background Obesity has become a global public health problem, which also affects children. It has been proposed that the educational interventions during childhood could be a key strategy in the prevention of obesity.

Objective To evaluate the efficacy of an intervention on food habits and physical activity in school children.

Methods A 2-year cluster-randomised prospective study with two parallel arms was used to evaluate an intervention programme in children in their first year of primary schooling (5–6 years of age) in schools in the city of Granollers. The intervention consisted of the promotion of healthy eating habits and physical activity by means of the educational methodology Investigation, Vision, Action and Change (IVAC). At the beginning and at the end of the study (2006 and 2008) the weight and height of each child was measured in situ, while the families were given a self-report physical activity questionnaire and the Krece Plus quick test.

Results Two years after the beginning of the study, the body mass index of the children in the control group was 0.89 kg/m2 higher than that of the intervention schools. The intervention reduced by 62% the prevalence of overweight children. Similarly, the proportion of children that ate a second piece of fruit and took part in an after-school physical activity increased in the intervention group. In the control group, the weekly consumption of fish was reduced.

Conclusions The educational intervention in healthy eating habits and physical activity in the school could contribute to lessen the current increase in child obesity.


  • Funding This study was supported by Observatori de la Salut Carles Vallbona, Fundació Hospital Asil de Granollers, Public Health Department, Granollers City Council, Primary Health Subdivision (PCS) Granollers–Mollet, Catalan Institute of Health and by Health Department, Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Clinical Research Ethical Committee of Granollers General Hospital.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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