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NIHR Signal A school-based obesity prevention programme was ineffective
A school-based healthy lifestyle programme delivered to 6-7-year-old children and their parents made no difference to children’s weight, diet or activity levels. Around 1 in 4 remained overweight or obese. The NIHR-funded year-long programme was delivered in 54 primary schools in one region of England. Teachers were trained to provide an additional 30 minutes of physical activity a day and deliver cookery workshops with parents each term. It also included activities with a local football ...
NIHR Signal A school-based lifestyle intervention didn’t help children avoid unhealthy weight gain
The Healthy Lifestyle Programme delivered to 9-10-year-old school children did not reduce their weight over the course of two years. Around a third remained overweight or obese, the same as in schools that followed the standard syllabus. This trial, funded by the NIHR, assigned schools across Devon to follow a lifestyle programme in Year five. The comprehensive curriculum included drama and activity workshops, personal goal setting and parental involvement. Children made better food choices, b...
NIHR Signal Teaching sexual health at school improved knowledge but not safe sex practices
School-based sexual health interventions improved knowledge and attitudes in school students up to 18. However, they failed to consistently improve safe sex practices or reduce unwanted pregnancies. Abstinence-based messages were least effective. This review of reviews included 37 systematic reviews of school-based sexual health interventions. It excluded low-quality reviews and spanned 1990 to 2016, so is likely to reflect the best evidence available on the topic. Intervention types included ...
NIHR Signal Intervention delivered in Northern Irish and Scottish schools reduces binge drinking
An alcohol misuse prevention programme reduced the number of 12 to 14-year-old school pupils reporting “binge” drinking 33 months after the course. The difference was 9% compared with usual education (26% vs 17%). The NIHR-funded Steps Towards Alcohol Misuse Prevention Programme (STAMPP) was tested in a large trial in 105 schools in Northern Ireland and Scotland. It involved around 14 lessons spread over two years and a presentation evening with parents to reinforce the school lesso...
NIHR Signal Young people often have negative views of sex and relationship education
Sex and relationship education in schools is intended to safeguard children from harmful relationships and promote sexual health. This review of 55 qualitative studies, mainly from the UK, suggests the classes do neither and may be failing to prepare, protect or engage young people. Most studies covered secondary school sex and relationship education for pupils aged 12 to 18. Many pupils felt that classes were wrongly taught like other subjects and by their usual teachers, making them feel emba...
NIHR Signal Regular use of fluoride mouthrinse is an option to reduce tooth decay in school children
A reduction intooth decay of about 27% can be expected from the supervised regular use of fluoride mouthrinsing by school children. Tooth decay has a significant impact on health and wellbeing. It is more common in disadvantaged communities and can be prevented by good oral hygiene and diet with reduced sugar intake. Children and young people are encouraged to brush their teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste and some schools in the UK have supervised programmes to encourage this. This revi...
NIHR Signal How to successfully implement a school-based health promotion programme
There are four broad areas to consider when implementing a school-based health promotion programmes: preparing for implementation, introducing a programme within a school, embedding a programme into routine practice, and fidelity of implementation and programme adaptation. This review identified specific factors for success for each. This was based on 22 studies (some of them NIHR-funded) around health promotion interventions in UK schools. Common factors that improved the chances of successful ...
NIHR Signal An anxiety prevention programme is not effective over the long term in UK primary schools
This NIHR funded trial of an anxiety prevention programme in UK primary schools found it was effective after one year if led by health practitioners, but not after two years. The programme was not effective at all if led by a teacher. After two years, anxiety had reduced a similar amount for both the intervention group and controls, who received the usual curriculum, including personal, social and health education (PSHE) lessons. The nine-week programme, delivered in the classroom, is based on c...
NIHR Signal Schools can provide valuable help for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
This series of NIHR-funded systematic reviews found that some things schools do (interventions) can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These were grouped into 15 main approaches including reward and punishment, skills training and self-management, creative-based therapies, such as music therapy, and structured physical activity. These reviews covered different strategies to change behaviour other than giving children medication. Most showed positive effects. Due to subs...
NIHR Signal Whooping cough infection common in school aged children with stubborn coughs
This NIHR-funded study found that almost a fifth of children aged five to 15 years who visited their GP with persistent cough showed signs of recent whooping cough infection, despite having a booster vaccination before school age. These data, from 22 GP practices in Thames Valley UK, describe the duration of vaccine-induced immunity and the burden of disease in adolescents. This may inform policy discussion about the potential need for a national adolescent whooping cough booster programme in th...
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