Sustained Body Mass Index Changes One and Two Years Post MATCH

Minority children living in low-socioeconomic rural areas are at high risk of being obese. School-based interventions present a promising way to reach such youth. MATCH (Motivating Adolescents with Technology to Choose Health), a behavioral intervention for middle-school students, was built around the idea that a school program could incorporate interdisciplinary educational goals, as well as behavior change and physical activity goals.

The curriculum uses social cognitive theory to evaluate, educate, motivate and activate students. The components span multiple subjects—science, math, language arts, technology, health, physical education and social sciences.

Williamston Middle School in North Carolina completed the intervention with two cohorts of 7th graders in school years 2006–07 and 2007–08. Area residents were 43 percent African-American; 23 percent lived in poverty. More than 60 percent of students participated in the federally-subsidized school lunch program.

Significant decreases were seen in BMI post intervention—and longer term. For Cohort 1, the percentage of students with healthy weight went from 45 percent at baseline to 53 percent at 15-month follow-up; for Cohort 2, from 53 percent to 59 percent healthy weight.

Taught as part of existing school lessons, MATCH was successful in triggering lifestyle behavior changes needed to reduce BMI.